George Will is at it again. His latest bit of inane demagoguery can be found here, in which he excoriates everyone who has ever opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:

Also disqualified from complaining [about oil prices] are all voters who sent to Washington senators and representatives who have voted to keep ANWR’s oil in the ground and who voted to put 85 percent of America’s offshore territory off-limits to drilling.

Naturally, Will ignores the flip side of the coin. What about people who have opposed investing in renewable energy, increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars, or encouraging conservation a decade ago? Those people have done far more long-term damage. If we’d begun to work on the oil problem ten years ago, we would be in much, much better shape than we are today.

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But is drill, drill, drill a solution? Will writes:

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In September 2006, two U.S. companies announced that their Jack No. 2 well, in the Gulf 270 miles southwest of New Orleans, had tapped a field with perhaps 15 billion barrels of oil, which would increase America’s proven reserves by 50 percent. Just probing four miles below the Gulf’s floor costs $100 million. Congress’s response to such expenditures is to propose increasing the oil companies’ tax burdens.

Wow, that’s a lot of oil! Given that the world consumes 30 billion barrels of oil today, that’s a whole six-month supply of oil. The U.S. consumes about a quarter of this; it represents about two years of U.S. consumption.

Thus, the policy of drill, drill, drill only delays the problem by a few months to a few years. The only long-term solution is to switch to renewable sources of energy — and the sooner we do it, the better.

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