Gasoline prices burned a hole in the wallets of most Americans over the summer, and McCain attempted to use this problem against Obama by highlighting Democratic support for an offshore drilling moratorium. McCain’s, “Drill baby, drill,” refrain sloshed bold and black into newsprint and e-print. It coated the tongues of conservative commentators and oozed into the halls of Congress. Even Obama eventually slipped on the slick, adding an offshore drilling provision to his energy platform.
With the U.S. Presidential Election mere days away, I thought it prudent to douse the burning offshore oil debate with cold, liquid facts. The U.S. consumes about 20.8 mega barrels of oil per day. The Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimates that the moratorium zone contains 15.8 giga barrels of crude. If true, oil from the moratorium zone would only supply U.S. demand for 2 years and 1 month. One might argue that further exploration could lead the EIA to raise its estimates. But, how much more might one reasonably expect? Is 10% reasonable? Is 25%? Or, maybe, you think 100% might be reasonable. Even in the final case, the moratorium zone only supplies US demand for less than 5 years.
Anyone with a shred of common sense and access to Energy Information Agency (EIA) data could have evaluated McCain’s proposal and put it to rest in under an hour. Drilling the moratorium zone begets a trickle of oil that starts flowing in 5+ years. Crude, rhetoric-roasted peanuts!