As the endless ANWR debate continues, George W. Bush said yesterday that allowing drilling would “bring enormous benefits to the American people.” Given how well-rehearsed this issue is, I know that to be false, but I didn’t realize what Ben at ThinkProgress pointed out, namely that the Department of Energy did a report just last month showing that drilling in ANWR would reduce the price of oil by 75 cents a barrel. That’s not 75 cents per gallon for your gasoline, it’s 75 cents per barrel of oil — meaning a reduction in price of substantially less than one percent wholesale and doubtless less than that in terms of retail gasoline.
The striking thing about this is that I doubt anyone is really all that shocked to learn that the president might make statements that contradict the findings of official government reports about the merits of his preferred policy vis-a-vis ANWR. He favors drilling, so he’s overstating the benefits. Whether he’s lying or not depends on the subjective status of his brain in a way that we can’t ever literally know, but he’s saying stuff that government reports say is false.
And of course it’s well-known that Bush has made claims that contradict official government reports about all kinds of topics, ranging from climate change to tax policy to oil drilling and beyond. And yet if you say he did this exact same thing with regard to making the case for invading Iraq, you’re treated as a member of the lunatic fringe. But it’s hardly unusual for politicians in general, or Bush in particular, to understate the costs and overstate the benefits of their preferred policies.