This morning in the White House Rose Garden, President Bush called on Congress to “pass good legislation as soon as possible” that would lift the federal ban on exploring the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and allow states to permit offshore oil drilling. Bush said in order to relieve the “painful level” of gas prices, “our nation must produce more oil.”
As part of his plan, Bush also reiterated his demand that Congress allow oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic Wildlife Refuge. According to Bush, drilling for oil in the Arctic Refuge will “bring enormous benefits to the American people”:
BUSH: we should expand oil production by permitting exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or ANWR. … In the years since , the price of oil has increased sevenfold and the price of American gasoline has more than tripled. … I urge members of congress to allow this remote region to bring enormous benefits to the American people.
Bush’s claim isn’t even backed up by his own administration. A Department of Energy report released last month found that the Arctic Refuge’s reserves will do little to reduce the price of a barrel of oil:
If Congress were to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, crude oil prices would probably drop by an average of only 75 cents a barrel, according to Department of Energy projections issued Thursday.
The report…found that oil production in the refuge “is not projected to have a large impact on world oil prices.”
Moreover, in 2005, DoE estimated that there are nearly 18 billion barrels of oil available in the OCS, which is roughly double the reserves in the Arctic Refuge. Thus, by 2025, drilling in Alaska and the OCS would shave around $2.25 off the cost of a barrel of oil meaning “little to no impact on the price at the pump, today or tomorrow.”
At best, Bush’s plan saves mere pennies on a gallon of gasoline 20 years from now, while putting billions more into Big Oil’s pockets. Perhaps oil company executives were the “American people” he was referring to.