What's your opinion, can we drill our way out of high gas prices?

John McCain already has shown he isn’t above pandering on the presidential campaign trail. In April, he addressed rising fuel prices by suggesting a gas tax holiday for the summer.

Now, the presumptive Republican nominee proposes an end to the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling as part of his energy policy. The idea was seconded by President Bush on Wednesday.

McCain says opening more of the U.S. coastline to drilling would help end our dependence on foreign oil. Well, that’s what he said this week. In 1999, during his last run for the presidency, McCain scolded the "special interests in Washington" that sought more offshore drilling.

Let’s start with what this isn’t: a serious proposal to deal with U.S. energy needs.

McCain’s plan is nearly identical to one that has failed at least three times in the U.S. Senate, twice while it was controlled by a Republican majority. So there is little likelihood of an offshore drilling bill reaching the president’s desk anytime soon.

Even if McCain’s proposal passed and was fully implemented, the impact would be limited. The Interior Department estimates there are 18 billion barrels of oil beneath the ocean in U.S. waters that now are off-limits to drilling. At the current rate of consumption, that would fulfill all our needs for perhaps 2½ years. Industry analysts say it would be five to seven years before any oil was delivered. And there’s no guarantee it would reduce prices at the pump.

On top of that, oil companies already have 68 million offshore-acres under lease that have yet to be developed, even with the twin incentives of rising prices and growing demand.

Paying .50 a gallon for gas is painful. Listening to oil company executives insist they have little control over prices while reporting record profits is infuriating. But we will never drill our way out of our addiction to imported oil.

There are, however, encouraging signs that the spike in fuel prices is prompting changes in behavior that can reduce that dependence. Transit ridership is up markedly. Gasoline consumption is down slightly. Detroit is switching production lines from gas-guzzling SUVs to more fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrids.

McCain — and Democrat Barack Obama — should build on those promising trends with their energy policies. To his credit, McCain used his address to repudiate Vice President Dick Cheney’s description of energy conservation as little more than a "personal virtue." But there’s no virtue in quick fixes — if more offshore drilling even qualifies as a fix.

11 Responses to “What's your opinion, can we drill our way out of high gas prices?”

  1. Agatha Says:

    Elections are about the future, whether for the city council or the White House. In this election for president, one candidate represents the future while the other candidate remains stuck in the past — and there’s no doubt which is which.

    Just look at the difference between Barack Obama and John McCain on energy. Obama proposes a windfall profits tax on big oil companies in order to help develop wind and solar energy, research new alternative energy technologies, and wean ourselves from fossil fuels. McCain proposes drilling for oil off the coast, one of the oldest and worst ideas in the Big Oil pipeline.

    Environmentalists fought the battle over offshore drilling decades ago, and won. New oil rigs in state coastal waters have been banned in California since the days of former Gov., now Attorney General, Jerry Brown. There’s a congressional ban on drilling off both the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts, in place since 1981, plus an executive ban on both coasts, originally signed by President George H. W. Bush in 1990. And there’s a good reason why.

    Offshore drilling will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
    It will destroy our most beautiful stretches of coastline, wreck our valuable tourism and fishing industries. And it will continue our dependency on fossil fuels. Meanwhile, it won’t do anything to ease today’s energy crisis. Even if the moratorium were lifted tomorrow, it would take at least 10 years to develop the offshore rigs and onshore tanks, pipelines and roadways necessary to begin production. By that time, with a new energy policy, we could be well on our way to a new, alternative-energy future.

    Offshore drilling won’t bring any relief for consumers, either. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates there are 18 billion barrels of oil in the moratorium areas. At present rates of consumption, those fields would be exhausted in less than two and a half years. Our coastline and beaches, of course, would have been lost forever. And don’t expect lower prices at the pump. According to the Campaign for America’s Future Online, lowering the price of crude by $1 per barrel saves roughly 2.5 cents per gallon. Which means that getting rid of the ban on coastal drilling would lower the price at the pump by less than 6 cents — by 2025.
    After oil executives, nobody was happier with John McCain’s proposal than oilman George W. Bush, who’s wanted to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling ever since he got to the White House, but didn’t dare. But whether McCain or Bush takes the lead, proposing offshore drilling as a solution to our energy problems is nothing but a cynical attempt to exploit public anger over $4-per-gallon gasoline in order to overturn economic and environmental protections in place for the last 27 years.

    Even John McCain knows that, or used to. His U-turn on offshore drilling is one of the most spectacular flip-flops in presidential campaign history.
    It’s Amazing! In less than a month, McCain has had the political
    equivalent of a religious conversion.

  2. odogwunna Says:

    No, at least not for now.

  3. Blue Martini Says:

    “I’ll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we’ll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills,” Obama says.
    If Obama was serious about tackling energy and oil/gasoline costs, he’d do something more constructive than to try and jack up prices at the pump the way he’s planning. Because make no mistake, no tax is ever paid by any business, it’s always passed onto the consumer.
    If we want oil and gas prices to come down, then all we have to do is increase domestic production. We have plenty of resources here that we aren’t allowed to tap, lest we upset the enviromental nuts or disturb someone’s view of the ocean. We invest in the infrastructure, tap those supplies, bring them to American markets (that is, don’t allow it to be sold overseas), and then, with the breathing space this creates, do some serious research into alternative solutions for when the well eventually runs dry.
    The thing is, this isn’t about the oil companies at all, nor is it about the price of oil or gas. No, it’s about going after big business — ANY big business that they can blame something on — and bleeding them dry to fund their socialist programs.

  4. just plain jim Says:

    It will not bring down oil prices, because the oil companies will sell it wholesale at spot world prices.

    Thus no savings to the consumer, just more bucks for the fat cat.

    Here is an issue who’s time has come
    Note: I get plenty of thumbs down for this, but no one has said why it won’t work, only that it won’t work — which of course is not an answer


    I believe the oil companies need to be nationalized and the profits go back to the people in the form of lower taxes.Same with our communications systems.

    Where I live in China as a transplanted American, both are nationalized and a gallon of gas costs about a buck less, and my cell phone bill is obscenely little. About $15 a month and I use it extensively.

    Plus, I pay zero sales tax, and tax on a home is very small to non existent, plus I have no income tax, despite that I make considerably more then the average person.

    There is a lot of revenue to be made off of both which gives the people more disposable income. A win for the government, a win for the people, a win for our economy. It will just pizzzz off the fat cats, one that some love to support, yet they don’t give a rats behind about their supporters.

    We often hear that the oil companies have a vested interest to give alternative energy only lip service. What better way to take care of that problem then put energy in the hands of the people. We need a Manhatten type of program to help eliminate our dependance on foreign oil while putting on the fast track alternative energy sources. The oil companies will fight both till all we will have left is a drop in the bucket of what we really need, all while we, the tax payer, continues to give them welfare bucks.

    What I fail to understand, people will fight tooth and nail to support the oil companies while continuing to pay high energy prices (at a profit that lines the pocket of the fat cat, who doesn’t give one hoot about them.) and pay high taxes to boot. Kind of like, shooting themselves in the head just to prove they can. Makes no sense whatsoever.

    I’m a capitalist, but when it comes to this, I must put my foot down and say, enough is enough.
    Case in point, in Venezuela, who has nationalized oil, they pay 13 cents a gallon.

    Think about it.

    Life is so simple, but we insist on making it complicated

    551 – 479 BC




  5. been there done that Says:

    No we can not the time it takes from start to finish is at least ten years, if something should have happened it should have happened when Ronnie was living in the White House. Not now. Why have so many refineries been taken off line, why have so many wells been capped here in this country, if energy(oil) was so important? It was not about the OIL, Boys & Girls, it was, and IS about the "Profit".
    You, (the OIL companies), control the supply, you control the price. You cap wells here in this country, you reduce the raw material, you increase the price. You reduce the refinering capacity of that raw product, you increase the price. This plan has been in effect since Ronnie was President. The PNAC knew then what would bring this country to it’s knees, and they have implemented their plan very well, and the lemmings have bought into the plan hook, line, and sinker.

  6. KMcG Says:

    No we can’t drill our way to cheaper gas prices. And supply is not the problem, it’s the speculation that’s been allowed to occur on the stock markets unchecked.

    Go here and educate yourself to the real issue.
    Energy Market Manipulation and Federal Enforcement Regimes hearing:

    Greenberger testimony:

    Not only are these people driving up the price of crude oil but many of the larger players are stock piling it as well, thus controlling the supply. It’s all a scam on the American public.

  7. Tired Trucker Says:

    "Let them eat cake." That’s the sentence that sums up your editorial. It’s not going to win your side too many points in the election.
    If there is no oil off our shores, then why is China and Vietnam leasing territory from Cuba for exploration?
    I’m not saying we shouldn’t drive smaller cars and hybrids, but our oil consumption isn’t limited to gassing up our cars. Farmers use it to plant, plow and harvest their fields. Trains and trucks move not only our food, but everything we buy around the country with oil. There is no way a fully loaded freight train or truck is going to be proppelled by a battery powered electric motor. That ain’t happening anytime soon.
    We need to stop bickering about wether we should be drilling OR conserving….why does it have to be one or the other? We can’t do both??

  8. love3680 Says:

    Yes, Drilling will lower gas prices. It’s called supply and demand when the supply is high and the demand is low prices drop. Now the supply is low and the demand is high thats one reason prices are so high. Plus if the bill gets passed to drill the stockholders will sell. Lowering the price.

    About a month ago the saudis could care less about suppling us with more oil. Now that Bush started talking about drilling they are ready to supply more. I say drill and become independent for foreign oil. While we still look for another resource.

  9. -RKO- Says:

    If you believe more domestic oil drilling will reduce gasoline prices, I have some oceanfront property in Truth-Or-Consequences, New Mexico I’d like to sell you.
    Why would oil companies reduce the price of a produce on which all of America is so dependent?
    And why would oil company shareholders be satisfied with lower dividends? Why would oil company CEOs agree to lower salaries as a result of lowering gas prices?
    Regardless of how much more oil we find, gasoline will NOT go down appreciably.
    The only real solution is to find alternative energy sources; begin consolidating our motoring trips to conserve fuel; driving less; using more mass transit; bicycling; riding mopeds or scooters; buying more fuel-efficient cars; buying less [petroleum-based] plastic junk from WalMart for ‘low prices – everyday’; abolishing the plastic shopping bag; using fewer plastic water bottles; carpooling; agreeing to REduce, REuse and REcycle; and (God forbid!) actually WALKING to school or work!! -RKO- 06/22/08

  10. Page1344 Says:

    As long as the Commodities Futures Modernization Act goes unchanged nothing anyone does will matter. You can drill your little hearts out and completely destroy the environment, but nothing will change as long as speculators are allowed to run amok.

    Simply adding the words "and energy" to the Commodities Futures Modernization Act would bring gas prices down overnight.

    80% of all known oil off the continental shelf of the United States have already been granted permits to drill, but those that would do the drilling are sitting on those permits. Ask yourself why.

  11. darrin b Says:

    no, we can’t.

    mccain and gwb want to give such a gift to the oil companies before bush leaves office.

    until we find an alternative to our fuel needs, we will continue to be in the same old, same old for years to come.

    and the oil companies already leases to 68 million of acres they are not using.

    the question is: why not?