When it comes to the causes of high prices for gasoline, Washington is reaching truly epic levels of mendacity. Last Thursday, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) aimed to "set the record straight on America's oil" in a Washington Post op-ed that was completely jam-packed with BS.
Murkowski, along with countless other congresscritters on both sides of the aisle, is a big fan of using the gasoline crisis as an excuse to expedite oil and gas drilling in the U.S. She called out Obama for noting that the U.S. has only 2 percent of the world's proven oil and gas reserves. You know, as if consuming a quarter of the planet's oil while owning just about none of it means anything. Pshaw!
"That line is crafted to make the audience think that America is both running out of oil and using oil at an unsustainable rate," said Murkowski.
Except, whoops, Obama was being entirely truthful both when he pointed out this uncomfortable fact and alluded to its implications — that we are, uh, actually both running out of oil and using it at an unsustainable rate. Proven reserves aren’t the only indicator of how much oil a country has — there are also “technically recoverable” reserves, which either exist or probably exist and which we could get if we sent in unicorns in little mining outfits. But when it comes to proven reserves, our coffers are low.
As for the unicorns, probably not worth busting them out just yet. Further oil exploration, as Murkowski recommends, won’t lower gas prices. The U.S. Energy Information Agency's Administrator, Richard Newell:
"Long term, we do not project additional volumes of oil that could flow from greater access to oil resources on Federal lands to have a large impact on prices given the globally integrated nature of the world oil market and the more significant long-term compared to short-term responsiveness of oil demand and supply to price movements."
Fact-checking the Washington rhetoric on oil, drilling and energy , The Hill.
Get Grist in your inbox