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Drop In The Ocean

The Center for Economic Policy and Research has released an analysis of media coverage showing how the media, and television news in particular, has perpetuated the myth that offshore drilling would substantially lower gas prices by ignoring the government's own reporting that the benefits from such drilling would be too small to have any significant effect on oil prices.

The paper, Oil Drilling In Environmentally Sensitive Areas: The Role of the Media , finds that in 267 television news broadcasts, the Energy Information Agency data was cited only once. Also, in 91 percent of the news programs in this sample, there was not even an opposing opinion presented.

The US Department of Energy's Energy Information Agency in a report called Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf states that if access was granted to all Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) resources there would not be any significant increase in production before 2030 at which point production would peak at only an additional 200,000 barrels per day.

This would be an insignificant factor in wellhead prices because oil prices are determined on an international basis and the increase would represent only 0.2% of world production. In 2030 we might see a decrease of about 3-4 cents per gallon. This is less oil than the 500,000 barrels per day that Saudia Arabia has committed to adding to world production this year, an action that did not reduce prices.

Increasing average vehicle fuel efficiency by 10 mpg would "produce" the equivalent of 3.5 million barrels of oil per day, without threatening our environment. US oil consumption is about 20 million barrels per day while US domestic production is about 5 million barrels per day (of which about 2.2 million currently comes from the lower 48 OCS). We import 75% of our needs. We need an extra 15 million barrels per day. The additional OCS production would max out at 0.2 million new barrels per day.

Drilling in the OCS is a drop in the ocean. We need better solutions than drilling now. The oil will still be there when we need it.

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