Dean Baker: More Offshore Drilling Would Have Minimal Effect On Gas Prices

Dean Baker accuses the NYT of dishonesty by omission:

The NYT should have also told readers that there is almost no disagreement among economists that drilling everywhere all the time offshore will have almost no impact on the price of gas in the United States. The reason is that we have a world market for oil. The additional oil that might come from offshore drilling is a drop in the bucket in a world oil market of almost 90 million barrels a day.

It is unlikely that drivers would even notice the difference between a policy where we told the oil industry that it could drill wherever it wants and pay no attention to the number of people it kills in the process or the resulting damage to the environment and local economies and a policy where we banned all new offshore drilling. Over the next 2 years the difference would be virtually non-existent and even after 10 years it is unlikely to change the price of gas by more than 2-3 percent.

Why was that not mentioned? It is an important consideration, isn’t it?

We really need to spend some serious human energy, time and money developing vehicles that do not burn carbon-based fuels. The apparent commercial failure of the Chevy Volt is irrelevant; there were attempts at building and selling automobiles well before the Model T succeeded in finding a public market. We have to do this, or the whole world pays the price. Meanwhile, the price we pay for fossil fuels will not be lowered significantly by any amount of offshore drilling or drilling in ANWR. That should be abandoned altogether as a bad idea.

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