Earlier this week John McCain made a speech in which he called for ending the 27-year-old federal ban on offshore oil drilling. McCain said lifting the ban would allow for the production for more oil and would thus reduce gas prices.
Before looking at what McCain said, let it be known that the Republican candidate had, about a month before his recent speech, said he didn’t think offshore drilling would help gas prices. That’s what they call in politics, a flip-flop. Uh-oh.
Now onto his speech. McCain said:
“And with gasoline running at more than $4 a barrel … a gallon … I wish … $4 a gallon, many do not have the luxury of waiting on the far-off plans of futurists and politicians. We have proven oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States. But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. And I believe it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use.”
Let’s examine the lies in those statements.
McCain implied that increased drilling would somehow lower gas prices at the pump. This is a bold-faced lie. Oil and gas pricing is not that simple.
But let’s look at the math. Supposedly there are 18 billion barrels of untapped oil along our coasts. Seems like a lot, right? Let’s not forget that oil is a global commodity. This means that what is produced in the U.S. doesn’t necessarily stay in the U.S. It is traded on an international market. So, let’s look at those 18 billion barrels and see how they would impact the world market:
In 2006, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that the world consumes 83.6 million barrels a day. That means that the U.S. could supply the world with oil for 215 days. Not much of an impact if you ask me.
If we decided to drop out of the international oil market, the offshore drilling could supply the US with oil for 860 or so days. So what happens when the oil runs out in three years?
This isn’t mentioning that there would be no drilling off the coast of California.
Wait, I haven’t even arrived at the kicker. If the U.S. did end the ban on offshore drilling, the oil wouldn’t be ready for production for 10 years.
Richard Carter, with the Defenders of Wildlife, argues that any new drilling would take at least 10 years to pump, and then only knock a couple cents off pump prices.
Also, instead of supporting the increase of oil production, here’s an idea for the next 10 years on how to lower gas prices and better the lives of consumers:
1. Subsidize Detroit auto makers in creating electric cars. Side effect: this also creates more jobs.
2. Give SUV drivers extra cash for trading in their gas guzzlers for more fuel efficient vehicles.
3. Support windmill production to help supplement oil- and coal-fueled power plants.
4. Give major rebates to homeowners who want to install photovoltaic cells to power their houses.
Although McCain’s plan wouldn’t help consumers, it would help one constituency: oil companies.