Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 214
Yes, gas is over $4.00 a gallon. Yes, it sucks. But oil is a finite, non-renewable commodity which is ever more-rapidly nearing depletion. There is no way we're going to produce our way out of this crisis.
But what if we could? Wouldn't lifting all limits on off-shore drilling (and, what the heck, while we're at it, let's open up AWNR, too!) have an immediate impact on oil supplies, commodities market prices, and the cost of a gallon of gas?
No. Take a deep breath. The answer is no. A statement yesterday from Tom Harkin sums up why:
“Already over 25 percent of our domestic production comes from offshore fields, and the oil companies already have leases to produce on many more sites. In fact, there are currently more than 33 million acres of federal lands on the Outer Continental Shelf under lease, but not producing. Opening more offshore areas wouldn’t get us any new oil in less than 5 years, and then less than a 6-month’s supply. We can’t pretend that opening up more offshore drilling is the answer when you consider that Americans are paying well over $4 per gallon for regular unleaded and using about 20 million barrels of oil per day, over half of which is imported.
That's right: the fact is that oil companies already hold substantial leases to drill off-shore that they're not even using. Even assuming that ramping up off-shore oil production would have an immediate impact on energy prices (and it wouldn't), oil companies already have the ability to do so, without requiring further Federal action.
(BTW, wouldn't you know it takes a senator from Iowa, of all places, to make these points about off-shore drilling?)
Calls for lifting the "ban" on off-shore drilling are a political gimmick. Don't fall for it.