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PolitiFact: Kerry correct on increased oil imports, but barely

The statement

"We now actually import more oil than we did before 9/11."

John Kerry, Sunday in an interview on ABC's This Week

The ruling

During an appearance on ABC's This Week, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., discussed the nation's energy future against the backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

"Here's what's important — not to be throwing the blame around, but to put America on the course to true energy independence and self-reliance and to begin to wean ourselves from our addiction to oil. … The United States is losing a major economic transformational moment. Until we begin to do something — you know, since 9/11, we now actually import more oil than we did before 9/11. It's insulting to common sense."

We checked whether Kerry was right about the United States importing more oil today than it did before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. There are at least three ways to measure it.

The number of barrels of crude oil imported: The United States imported 3.32 billion barrels of crude oil in 2000 and 3.40 billion barrels in 2001. Both figures were higher than 2009 import level — 3.31 billion barrels.

By this measure, Kerry is incorrect, although just slightly.

Imported crude oil as a percentage of all oil in the United States: In 2000, oil imports accounted for 61 percent of the total of imports and domestic production, and in 2001, imports accounted for 62 percent. In 2009, the percentage of imports was 63 percent — slightly higher.

Kerry is correct, though again, the difference is modest.

Imported crude oil plus imported unfinished oils: William Brown, operations research analyst for the federal Energy Information Administration, said there has been a rise in imports of partially refined oils. In 2000, the combination of crude oil and partially refined oils accounted for 9.54 million barrels per day, and in 2001, they accounted for 9.71 million barrels per day. In 2009, that figure was 9.86 million barrels per day.

Again, Kerry is right. So we rate his claim Mostly True.

Edited for print. For more, see PolitiFact.com.

PolitiFact: Kerry correct on increased oil imports, but barely 06/07/10 [Last modified: Monday, June 7, 2010 10:16pm]
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