Times reported that Dems argue "coastal exploration would have no immediate impact on gas prices," but not that the Energy Dep't agrees

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

The New York Times reported that "leading Democrats" argue "that allowing additional coastal exploration [for oil] would have no immediate impact on gas prices." But the article did not note that it is not only "leading Democrats" who have pointed out that access to currently off-limit areas would have no immediate impact on prices: The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that allowing the congressional and executive moratoriums on certain off-shore drilling to expire in 2012 "would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030."

In a July 24 New York Times article, reporter Carl Hulse stated: "On the one side is the Democratic leadership, pushing its view that oil companies must be pressed to explore their current holdings and that the nation should pursue more alternative energy sources without opening areas now off limits to drilling. On the other are Republicans with their dominant message: Drill." Hulse further reported that "leading Democrats also say they believe Mr. [Sen. Barack] Obama can carry a debate with Senator John McCain over offshore drilling, arguing that allowing additional coastal exploration would have no immediate impact on gas prices." But Hulse did not note that it is not only "leading Democrats" who have argued that access to currently off-limit areas would have no immediate impact on prices. In fact, in 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA) considered the likely effects of allowing the congressional and executive moratoriums on certain off-shore drilling to expire in 2012 and estimated that access to offshore areas currently off limits "would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030," as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented.

In a May 2008 report, the EIA also considered the effects of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and concluded that oil drilling in ANWR would not impact the U.S. oil supply for at least a decade.

From the July 24 New York Times article:

WASHINGTON -- Congressional Republicans and Democrats agree that high gasoline prices are the driving domestic political issue of the moment, spurring new campaign advertisements and maneuvering almost every day. But that is about all they can agree on when it comes to the national panic at the pump.

Making it increasingly clear that the Congressional debate is more a matter of political positioning than policy creation, the Senate failed Wednesday to come to terms on the ground rules for considering an energy bill, delaying a proposal to curb speculation in oil futures and stymieing a broader review of energy initiatives.

The stalemate is drawing sharp contrasts for the November election. On the one side is the Democratic leadership, pushing its view that oil companies must be pressed to explore their current holdings and that the nation should pursue more alternative energy sources without opening areas now off limits to drilling. On the other are Republicans with their dominant message: Drill.

"We should come out for developing more American energy, and not rely on expensive foreign sources," said Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee. "We can develop our offshore resources far from the coastline in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, and add to our energy supply."

Republicans say they are willing to back alternative energy proposals and conservation as well but drilling has been their priority. And in an election season when the terrain has been steeply tilted against them, Republicans say they have finally struck pay dirt on an issue they can exploit with some success. Polls show that Americans want cheaper gasoline and that many are willing to embrace new drilling if it can bring down the price.

[...]

Some Democrats grudgingly concede that Republicans have finally gotten a little traction on an issue after struggling for months to find their footing. But they say it is far from enough to fundamentally alter the election landscape.

And they point to the fact that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are closely identified with the oil industry, a tie that makes it unlikely the high price of gasoline is going to be pinned on Democrats, especially when Republicans had full control of Washington for much of the current Bush era.

"With the election now set between change versus status quo, drilling is not the silver bullet for our energy policy or the Republicans' political misfortunes," said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

Democrats also say that most voters can be persuaded that expanded offshore domestic drilling is no solution to a gas price crunch that calls for innovation and exploration of new ways of powering America.

"Why are they clinging to this?" asked Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, referring to the Republican emphasis on drilling. "They are mired in the past."

As they step up their cooperation with Senator Barack Obama's campaign, leading Democrats also say they believe Mr. Obama can carry a debate with Senator John McCain over offshore drilling, arguing that allowing additional coastal exploration would have no immediate impact on gas prices. They say the energy issue can be cast as a generational one, with Mr. Obama representing a shift away from a focus on oil while his opponent, Mr. McCain, is embracing new drilling as the chief solution to gas prices.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Drilling, Energy
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Person
Carl Hulse
Stories/Interests
Gas Prices
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