“When you have a spill that big you look around and ask, ‘Are we doing everything carefully,’ ” says Sarah Emerson, managing principal at Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Mass. “It was careful governance, but it would have an impact on production in the subsequent year.”
Instead, Obama said the industry was sitting on leases for decades. “So if you want to drill on public lands, you use it or you lose it,” he told Romney.
The government did take away some leases, agrees Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy expert affiliated with the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management.
But she says Obama’s implication that the energy companies are lazy may be too negative.
“Sometimes it’s more complicated,” she says. For example, she says oil companies have to decide what their priorities are in terms of drilling. Sometimes, the best prospects may be in West Africa or Latin America. “You have to show management you are better off drilling here than somewhere else,” she says.