All-Star Panel: Who won the energy debate?

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 18, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MITT ROMNEY, R – PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: In the last four years you cut permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: So how much did you cut them by? By how much did you cut them by then?

OBAMA: Governor, we had actually produced more oil --

ROMNEY: No, no. How much did you cut licenses and permits on federal land and federal waters?

OBAMA: Governor Romney, here's what we did. There were a whole bunch of oil companies.

ROMNEY: I had a question, and the question was how much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: Do you want me to answer? I'm happy to answer the question.

ROMNEY: All right, and it is?

OBAMA: Here is what happened. You had a whole bunch of oil companies who had leases on public lands that they weren't using.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, that was a heated moment talking about energy policy from the debate last night. As you can imagine, industry analysts were quick to pipe up today arguing they see a very different face from the Obama administration.


CHARLES DREVNA, AMERICAN FUEL & PETROCHEMICAL MANUFACTURERS: They've done everything they can to throw roadblocks up to the oil and gas refining industry. They've done everything they can to inhibit production. When you compare the time it takings to get a federal permit versus a state permit say in Dakota or Ohio or Pennsylvania, you're talking days, not years.


BAIER: OK, back with the panel. Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: There is all kinds of fact-checking on this. The New York Times today said basically there's been a 13 percent increase in oil production, six percent in gas in the last three years as compared to the last three years of the Bush administration.

Now, the widely used number, this 14 percent reduction in terms of federal lands coincides with the one-year moratorium after Deep Horizon, the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, you have different parameters that you can put on this, different timeframes Bret, so that you can say for different timeframes you can argue about what's been produced or not. But there are different explanations.

Overall though, what you see is that there has been an increase. The question is, is it on private lands? Does it have t to do with fracking? Does it have to do with easier access from state permits versus what's going on on federal lands? But overall, the fact is there's more production both oil and gas in the country and lower imports.

BAIER: That's the key point. Is that the boom is on state and private lands where permits are granted without delay and has nothing to do with the federal government.

WILLIAMS: Correct, but of course on those lands you didn't have something like Deep Horizon happen where you had this terrible spill that the government then reacted to.

BAIER: -- and the federal government had the moratorium that they put in place that arguably people in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast said was in place longer than it needed to be.

WILLIAMS: Well, remember people in Louisiana were losing business too. And so they wanted something done and they've gotten compensation. There are varying impulses here.


BEN FELLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, as I was watching that clip again, I had two thoughts.  The first is, of course, that was really interesting because we had a genuine debate.  It's the first time America has seen Romney and Obama stand that close and challenge each other in that context. I think that was informative to viewers about who these guys are, how much they want the job, and sort of some of the tension between them.

But I also think bringing this back to the undecided voters who, in fact, were the point of this debate. The guy that asked the question originally was, is it the job of the government to bring down my gas prices? Right? They went through a whole debate and then they didn't really answer and then Candy Crowley tried to get them again. And that's what led to that debate there, moreover.  What was the production of oil leases on public lands or not.

And the real answer is that there is nothing that can be done to lower gas prices tomorrow or even really six months or a year. So these things go up and down and we look at them in the electoral context, but there's not a quick answer, and I don't think either of them wanted to say that.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I don't think it was a good moment for President Obama because the question was about Energy Secretary Steven Chu. While the questioner didn't get into the details of what Chu actually -- didn't quote Steven Chu, he alluded to the fact that Steven Chu has said on multiple occasions that it's not the job of the energy secretary to bring down gas prices. And in fact, there might actually be benefits to keeping gas prices high. And Steven Chu said this in September of 2008 before he was a part of the Obama administration, but while he was advising candidate Obama, said we need to get gas prices as high as they are in Europe. And that's the kind of thing I wonder if -- do independent voters at home think this is what matters to me?

BAIER: We will follow this energy issue. That it is it for the panel. But stay tuned to see true fair and balanced coverage. It's interesting.

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