Yesterday on Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: With gas moving up towards five bucks a gallon, Chrystia, do you think that the voters of the United States, if they had a plebiscite and everybody got to vote, wouldn‘t vote right now to open up the Arctic wilderness, wouldn‘t vote right now for off-shore if it could get them $2 gas (INAUDIBLE) gas? Wouldn‘t they be very pragmatic and say, Enough of the environmentalism, we want the cheaper gas?
Other things a “plebiscite” of Americans would “pragmatically” vote for unanimously:
A cure for cancer
Lottery wins for everyone
Genetically modified healthy pizza
Of course, if we could go to the polls and “make it happen,” we would vote for gasoline to be $2.00 a gallon. But why stop there? Why not $1.00? Or better yet- FREE!
The thing is, though, if we start offshore drilling immediately, and I will throw in drilling in ANWR and anywhere else you want to drill, the price of gas is not going to drop to $2.00 a gallon. It just isn’t- oil is a fungible commodity, is restricted by our refining capacity, and so on (take note of the fact that the production of gas-guzzling SUV’s is tapering off– think there is a connection to oil prices? ). Not to mention the overseas demand in places like China and India and whatnot are going to double over the next ten years. So $2.00 gasoline is just a pipe dream, most certainly will not happen in the long term, and definitely not in the short term.
This is not to say that I am fundamentally opposed to offshore drilling- I have repeatedly stated that any rational energy policy needs to look at every available possibility, to include drilling, increased refining, higher CAFE standards (not the weak increases that just passed that will not take place until 2020), targeted tax cuts aimed at spurring technological advances in green technologies, nuclear power, and so forth, but the notion we can drill our way out of our current problem is absurd. As such, it should surprise approximately NO ONE that this will become a key plank in the 2008 Republican election gambit. Unfortunately for the Republicans, some of the chief supporters of the ban are… Republicans, as the LA Times notes:
President Bush today called on Congress to clear the way for offshore drilling by the states, saying that it could match current production for 10 years and that new methods allow drilling that protects habitats against oil spills.
With Democrats in Congress opposed to drilling, Bush said their opposition is “outdated and counterproductive” and that it “helped drive gas prices to their current level.” Saying that $4-a-gallon gas prices should be “enough incentive” for Democrats to act, Bush asked, “How high do gas prices have to rise before the Democratic Congress will do something about it?”
Bush also called for exploration of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a new push for refineries (he blamed “lawsuits and red tape” for the fact that no new refineries have been built in 30 years) and mining of shale rock for oil.
The president made no mention of his father, President George H.W. Bush, who banned coastal oil exploration in 1990, or his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who long opposed it. Except to say that much of U.S. energy now “comes from abroad, that’s what’s changed in the last few decades,” putting “our economy and our security at risk.”
In short, yes, Chris Matthews, a plebiscite would probably vote for gasoline at $2.00 a gallon, but what would be awesome is if there was some way, some form of giant medium where the sort of information discussed above could get out to the general public. Some system by which allegedly informed individuals could spread this message to large numbers of people, and when politicians claim that offshore drilling and drilling in ANWR will magically return us to $2.00 gasoline, these allegedly informed people could call “bullshit!” and let the public know the pols are full of it. Maybe even a system in which things are “broadcast” into people’s homes on a box-like apparatus with pictures and sound. Maybe they could even use high-speed cables and satellite to beam that information to consumers. That would be awesome, but it would probably require that the people sending the message be smarter than a stump.
I guess we can hope that a magical technology like this is right around the corner. I bet a plebiscite of the American public would support this kind of technology.
*** Update ***
And then you have this:
As President Bush considers repealing a ban on drilling off most of the coast of the United States, a shortage of ships used for such drilling promises to impede any rapid turnaround in oil exploration. Slow growth in oil supplies has been a major factor in the spike in oil and gasoline prices.
In recent years, a global shortage of drill-ships has created a critical bottleneck, frustrating energy company executives and constraining their ability to exploit known reserves or find new ones, at a time of soaring demand.
As oil trades at more than $135 a barrel — up from $68 a year ago — the world’s drill-ships are booked solid for the next five years. Some oil companies have been forced to postpone exploration while waiting for a drilling rig, executives and analysts said.