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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of March 22-28

This week, readers sent us comments about oil production, oil imports and reliable sources of information.

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.

What About the Environmentalists?

Your latest on oil production ["Is Obama to Blame for $4 Gasoline?," March 24] was well received. Thank you.

It did not address, however, a topic that my conservative friends continue to throw out at me whenever possible. They charge that the “environmentalists” have, by exerting pressure on the EPA and the Congress, brought the drilling of new wells and the opening of new coal mines almost to a halt. Is it possible that “they” have such power? How healthy is the oil industry in America? Are these questions you might address? If you have not already done so. Thank you again for shedding light on so many untruths.

James Carmack
Flint, Mich.


Geography Lesson Redux

Regarding Matthew Sachse’s geography lesson ["FactCheck Mailbag, Week of March 15-21"], he is certainly correct that Mexico and Canada are not overseas, and neither are the countries in South America. But I do not know of any oil pipelines linking Venezuela to the U.S., so I suspect that oil from most of the countries he lists reaches the U.S. via tanker – that is, overseas.

A few quick Google searches show a pipeline linking Canada and the U.S., but not one between Mexico and the U.S. (Don’t take my minimal efforts as the final word.) How do these countries send us our oil? Is some of it shipped by tanker?

Finally, allow me to be really pedagogic and mention that Alaska doesn’t have any refineries, so all refined petroleum products derived from Alaskan crude can be considered as reaching their destinations – even Alaskan! – from overseas. Keep up the good work,

Steve Wartik
Arlington, Va.

Regarding Matthew Sachse’s letter, all of the crude oil imported from Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina, most of the oil imported from Mexico, and part of that from Canada, arrive in the U.S. via tanker ship. What does Mr. Sachse think those ships are sailing upon, if not the sea? If it comes "over the sea," then it comes from "overseas."

Chris Wolfe
Topeka, Kan.


Consider the Source, I

Quoting the Congressional Budget Office should always contain a couple of caveats. The first one being: The CBO works with the numbers that the Congress puts into legislation regardless of how far-fetched those numbers may be! So the CBO does NOT weigh in on how realistic the numbers are!

Secondly, unlike any responsible analyst, the CBO does NOT weigh in on the probability of success or failure the legislation has. Any responsible analyst always weighs in with a best/worst/most probable costing and grading. BUT, the CBO is specifically not allowed to do this by the Congress!

Theodore Whittlinger
Torrance, Calif.


Consider the Source, II

I’ve just read your "take" on the Brazilian oil issue ["Bogus Brazilian Oil Claims," Sept. 28, 2009] and I must say I am extremely disappointed in your reporting on this issue. You call these claims bogus, but your entire investigation stems directly from one source, the Export-Import Bank of the United States. How can you state "facts" using only information from the party in question? Even a fledgling reporter fresh from college, or even a high school journalist would know better than to use what most definitely could be a skewed source.

The Soros issue, yes, Bloomberg has verified the reduction of his interest in the Brazilian company, but 5.8 million shares is still quite an interest. But at least your reporting of this issue seems to be on the money, pun intended, kind of.

You want to dispel "lies"? Then please act like a reputable agency and seek out more than one source. If I were to write a piece of a murderer claiming to be innocent, I’m pretty sure I’d investigate beyond that killer’s words alone. It’s this type of reporting that will destroy your credibility. Of course, you have one thing going, most individuals visiting your site will never question your sources or your lack thereof. So, I guess you’ll continue to get away with your less than investigative reporting.

Jimmy (J.D.) Gordon
Chicago, Ill.

FactCheck.org responds: In fact, our article contains a hyperlink to the official minutes of the Ex-Im Bank meeting at which the loan to Brazil was approved. We consider this conclusive evidence that the loan was initially approved by the bank’s board prior to the arrival of any Obama appointees, and that the purpose is to finance the purchase of U.S. equipment and services, which is the bank’s mission.