Bush lifts ban on offshore drilling
President Bush on Monday lifted an executive ban on offshore oil drilling and challenged Congress to follow suit, aiming to turn the enormous public frustration about gasoline prices into political leverage. Democratic lawmakers rejected Bush's plan as a symbolic stunt.But even if Congress lifts its moratorium, it would be years before the consumer sees any result. And even then there are no guarantees that the result would be one the consumer would like.
With gas prices topping $4.10 a gallon nationally, Bush made his most assertive move to extend oil exploration, an energy priority of his presidency. By lifting the executive ban on coastal drilling, Bush rescinded a White House policy that his father put in place in 1990.
The move will have no practical effect unless Congress acts, too. Both executive and legislative bans must be lifted before offshore exploration can happen. [emphasis mine]
Even if Congress agreed, the exploration for oil would take years to produce real results. It is not projected to reduce gas prices in the short term. Even the White House routinely emphasizes there is no quick fix. [emphasis mine]So basically, all that happens is that oil companies which are currently making record profits, get to drill for oil in areas where it was previously prohibited so that somewhere down the road they can mug us, steal our wallets and make even bigger profits. Sound fair to you?
The truth is, allowing drilling in offshore areas, as in Senator John McCain's plan, will have very little effect on oil prices. And, increasing fuel efficiency standards would have a greater effect than drilling for more oil. From a June 2008 Issue Brief from the Center for Economic and Policy Research:
However, the Energy Information Agency (EIA) projects that Senator McCain’s proposal would have no impact in the near-term since it will be close to a decade before the first oil can be extracted from the currently protected offshore areas. The EIA projects that production will reach 200,000 barrels a day (0.2 percent of projected world production) at peak production in close to twenty years. It describes this amount as too small to have any significant effect on oil prices.This move by President Bush has nothing to do with solving America's energy crisis. It has nothing to do with helping the consumer. It has everything to do with a Texas oilman in the White House trying to help his friends pad their bottom line, on his way out the door.
In conclusion, if Congress had continued to increase fuel efficiency standards over the last 22 years, we would currently have more than sixteen times the savings in oil consumption than what Senator McCain’s plan promises to accomplish in 20 years by drilling offshore in protected areas– and a proportionately larger impact on gas prices. [emphasis mine]