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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of March 15-21

This week, readers sent us comments about U.S. oil imports and the Wisconsin budget battle.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Geography Lesson

Mr. Michael Morse wrote a piece ["Obama, McConnell Take Oil Import Data for Spin," March 14] discussing how President Obama and Senator McConnell used the same data to come to two different conclusions about oil imports. Unfortunately, Mr. Morse ignored glaring misinformation put forth by Senator McConnell. As quoted by Mr. Morse, Senator McConnell stated, "Sixty percent of our oil is coming from overseas. That is unacceptable." What Mr. Morse failed to note is that far and away the majority of oil being imported to the United States comes from Canada and Mexico. Unless Senator McConnell has moved the oceans, Canada and Mexico are not over any seas. As of 2010, over one-third of U.S. crude oil imports came from Canada and Mexico, which means that the 60% number that Mr. Morse spends his time defending is also incorrect. In case Mr. Morse or Senator McConnell is wondering, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina are a few more of the U.S. oil suppliers that have not moved "overseas."

Matthew Sachse
Cheyenne, Wyo.

FactCheck.org responds: The exact percentages vary slightly over time, but Mr. Sachse is essentially correct. Canada and Mexico historically have been the largest suppliers of U.S. oil imports, by far. For the most recent six months on record (July – December 2010), the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s figures show that of all U.S. imports of crude oil and crude oil products, 11.3 percent came from Mexico and 21.5 percent came from Canada. So together they accounted for just slightly under one-third of imports. Imports from all OPEC countries (including Venezuela) accounted for 41 percent of U.S. imports during that time.


Wisconsin Budget Claims Busted

I wanted to thank you for the articles ["Wisconsin’s Baffling Budget Battle," March 2] you provided regarding the Wisconsin budget fiasco over the past few weeks. In particular, the Rachel Maddow MSNBC claims ["Walker’s Tax Cuts," March 4]. Your article backed up my deduction from the data at Sunshine Review. Keep it up as Walker’s budget is printed later [last] week, no doubt there will be claims in TV ads that are just unbelievable and we will have to endure these until the April election. The more facts we know, the better we can make a choice at the polls.

Carl Grota
Sturgeon Bay, Wis.


Getting the Truth

Thanks for what you do. It is so important, and we really need the truth!

Nancy Nadeau
Lincoln, R.I.