Drilling myths debunked

by Mike Gaworecki

August 13, 2008

In an epic bid to test the veracity of the old adage that repeating a lie often enough makes it true, several of our politicians, ostensibly our “leaders,” are still calling for drilling the OCS as a means to alleviate high gas prices and lead America toward energy independence.

We should be extra careful not to help validate their claims by saying things like, “It won’t lower gas prices for 10 years.” By accepting the idea that gas prices will be lowered at all, you just help perpetuate the myth that we should start drilling as soon as possible. Drilling will not lower gas prices because, as the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell recently said, “easy-to-produce oil and gas [will] likely peak in the next 10 years.” Drilling costs will skyrocket as we tap these harder-to-reach oilfields, offsetting any possible benefit of increased oil production, meaning that drilling the OCS will have a thoroughly negligible impact on gas prices no matter when we start drilling.

But all of the claims made by the Drill Now chorus have been thoroughly debunked, of course. Here’s a factsheet on the topic that compiles research done by independent parties, or in some cases done by federal agencies. (Ah, the irony: Bush is one of the loudest voices calling for drilling the OCS, and it is his federal agencies that have debunked many of his claims.)

For instance, we have 3% of the world’s oil reserves, but consume 24% of the world’s oil (Energy Information Administration, "U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas and Natural Gas Liquid Resources, 1999 Annual Report," DOE/EIA-0216 (99) (December 2000)). Clearly, the path to energy independence does not lead down an oil well.

The only real way out of this mess we’re in is to invest in renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Instead of making bogus claims about drilling the OCS, our federal legislators should be passing tax credits and other incentives for investment in renewable energy. Unfortunately, as Thomas Friedman recently pointed out in a scathing op-ed, the Senate has failed on eight separate occasions to renew tax credits for solar and wind investment that are set to expire in December. This has scared off many potential investors, in America and abroad.

Our “leaders” want us to open more land to drilling by oil companies that are already making a killing, but they can’t muster the political will to give tax credits to the folks who are working to implement real solutions. It’s ridiculous.

If you’re as pissed as me about this, tell Congress not to give in to the call to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling. They should be concentrating on real solutions.

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