John McCain, Republican nominee for President and the artist formerly known as "the maverick," now supports lifting the federal ban on offshore drilling. Today, John McCain spoke to the big the oil companies in Houston and has told them that the answer to high gas prices is to drill for oil off the shores of places like Florida, a state the relies on heavily on its beaches and ocean wildlife for its tourism industry. John McCain is now going along with the Republican party line that says the United States should start drilling in federally protected lands, such as the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), and said that the individual states should have the right to "choose to permit exploration" on these lands.
The problem that McCain and most Republicans, including my Congressman, Tim Murphy, have is that the volume of oil reserves in places like ANWR is so small that its impact on oil prices in the global market would be negligible. A recent report (May 2008) by the US Department of Energy Report agrees, and concluded the following:
So the DOE report states that drilling for oil now would only move oil prices by about 40 to 50 cents a barrel. What does this do for us at the pump? This translates to an average savings of around how about 5 to 6 cents for a gallon of gasoline. The report also mentions that the crude oil wouldn't even be available to refineries until 2013. So how does that help us now John McCain?
Additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR would be only a small portion of total world oil production, and would likely be offset in part by somewhat lower production outside the United States. The opening of ANWR is projected to have its largest oil price reduction impacts as follows: a reduction in low-sulfur, light crude oil prices of $0.41 per barrel (2006 dollars) in 2026 for the low oil resource case, $0.75 per barrel in 2025 for the mean oil resource case, and $1.44 per barrel in 2027 for the high oil resource case, relative to the reference case.
It doesn't, and it should be clear that the negative impact on wildlife in ANWR is not worth the tiny benefits resulting from drilling for oil there. But John McCain doesn't see things this way. Here is an excerpt from his speech to the energy industry down in Houston today:
Quite rightly, I believe, we confer a special status on some areas of our country that are best left undisturbed. When America set aside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, we called it a “refuge” for a reason.
But the stakes are high for our citizens and for our economy. And with gasoline running at more than four bucks 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.
We can do this in ways that are consistent with sensible standards of environmental protection. And in states that choose to permit exploration, there must be an appropriate sharing of benefits between federal and state governments. But as a matter of fairness to the American people, and a matter of duty for our government, we must deal with the here and now, and assure affordable fuel for America by increasing domestic production.
We should set the highest goals for ourselves for the years and decades to come, and I am a believer in the technologies that one day will free us from oil entirely. But to get there at all, a more pragmatic approach will serve us better. In the short term, we must take the world as it is and our resources where they are – even as we press on with new and cleaner sources of energy. We must be bold in our plans to break our strategic dependence on oil, and over the next two weeks, I’ll be offering a vision that will be bold. But we must also address the concerns of Americans, who are struggling right now to pay for gasoline, groceries, and other necessities of life.
What is certain in energy policy is that we have learned a few clear lessons along the way. Somehow all of them seem to have escaped my opponent. He says that high oil prices are not the problem, but only that they rose too quickly. He’s doesn’t support new domestic production. He doesn’t support new nuclear plants. He doesn’t support more traditional use of coal, either.
Each major election year the Republican party call for drilling in ANWR and try to blame the Democrats for the high oil prices since they are blocking drilling on that land. Not too long ago I received a mailer from my congressmen, Tim Murphy, that showed a map of our oil reserves and said that in order to lower gas prices we must drill off shore. This is pure political BS and it shows a lack of knowledge of the realties of the geopolitical world of crude oil. In 2004, a similar report from the DOE said the same thing as the 2008 report, but that didn't stop the Republicans from politicizing high oil prices back then either.
Here is the link to McCain's speech, and here is one to the DOE report on ANWR from May of 2008. John McCain may be one of the few Republicans who believe in Global Warming and Climate Change, but lately it seems like he is more likely to follow the non-leadership of the Bush administration on ending our dependence on foreign oil, since focusing on diminishing domestic oil reserves instead of new forms of renewable fuels is just delaying the inevitable - which is the economic catastrophe that results when global peak oil is reached and oil prices are so high that today's $4 a gallon for gasoline looks cheap.