Gas Prices Are High, But Drill Baby Drill Policies Will Not Bring Down Costs

This article originally appeared on Demos' Policy Shop

Follow @jmijincha

Sometimes I wonder if we should require our politicians to prove they are capable of doing basic math before they can engage in policymaking.

Yes, gas prices are high, although not as high as they were in the summer of 2008, but most of the solutions being offered will have zero impact on bringing the prices down. The “drill baby drill” mantra is catchy, but further expanding our drilling capacity is not going to help. Here’s where the math skills come in handy: the U.S. consumes 20 percent of the world’s oil supply but owns only 2 percent of its reserves. So, we could drill every last drop out of our reserves, destroying fragile ecosystems in the process, and still fall very short of meeting our oil demands.

In fact, the easiest way to reduce our dependence on oil imports is to reduce the amount of oil we consume. The new fuel efficiency standards that U.S. automakers are now implementing will reduce oil consumption by 2.2. million barrels a day — more than drilling in the Gulf currently produces. Plus, producing more oil here doesn’t mean that it will stay here. If other oil-hungry countries like China or India are willing to pay more than we are, that’s where the oil goes. There is no requirement that oil produced domestically must stay domestically.

This fact is true for all energy produced, including tar sands and natural gas. As we pointed out before, just because the Keystone XL pipeline is built, there is no guarantee that the final product will stay stateside. As for natural gas, we should not strive to be the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas,” as President Obama has claimed. For one, it is not at all clear how much natural gas we have and the projected amount of natural gas in shale rock was just slashed in half. Not to mention that getting the natural gas out of shale rock, otherwise known as fracking, has a slew of negative health and environmental impacts, including contaminating drinking water supplies, causing earthquakes, and making tap water flammable.

The way to decrease gas prices is not going to change: stop oil speculations, stop trying to go to war with Iran, and start ramping up investments in renewable energy. It’s not a catchphrase, but it’s the only thing that’s going to work.

Photo Credit: LouieBaur

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Mijin Cha

Dr. J. Mijin Cha is a Senior Policy Analyst in the Sustainable Progress Initiative at Demos, a progressive think tank based in New York City. Prior to joining Demos, she was the Director of Campaign Research at Urban Agenda, where she was the primary author of the New York City Green Collar Jobs Roadmap. Dr. has also worked as a senior policy specialist working with state legislators and local advocacy groups to promote smart growth, clean energy, and green economy legislation at the state level. Her most recent international work experience was in Nepal with the Integrated Center on International Mountain Development (ICIMOD) on a Ford Foundation project to increase access to environmental justice in rural areas of South Asia. Dr. Cha is a graduate of Cornell University and holds a JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and LLM and PhD degrees from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies.

MORE FROM

Anthony Scaramucci acknowledges “colorful language” after ‘New Yorker’ published his wild rant

Scaramucci's "colorful language" revealed the high-stakes tension going on at the White House.

Lindsey Graham says he is creating legislation to block Trump from firing Mueller

Graham said earlier that ousting Mueller would mark the "beginning of the end of the Trump presidency."

Despite Trump, military leaders say there will be no changes to transgender policy for now

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect."

Trump will visit Long Island to discuss gang violence — but some fear he could make the issue worse

Trump has celebrated mass deportations as fighting gang violence — but are his words helping or hurting?

Like his boss, Anthony Scaramucci seems to be a fan of disgraced football coach Joe Paterno

President Donald Trump also gave a shout-out to the late Penn State coach during the 2016 campaign.

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: Transgender ban, GOP healthcare struggling, video games relieve work stress

What you need to know for Thursday, July 27.

Anthony Scaramucci acknowledges “colorful language” after ‘New Yorker’ published his wild rant

Scaramucci's "colorful language" revealed the high-stakes tension going on at the White House.

Lindsey Graham says he is creating legislation to block Trump from firing Mueller

Graham said earlier that ousting Mueller would mark the "beginning of the end of the Trump presidency."

Despite Trump, military leaders say there will be no changes to transgender policy for now

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect."

Trump will visit Long Island to discuss gang violence — but some fear he could make the issue worse

Trump has celebrated mass deportations as fighting gang violence — but are his words helping or hurting?

Like his boss, Anthony Scaramucci seems to be a fan of disgraced football coach Joe Paterno

President Donald Trump also gave a shout-out to the late Penn State coach during the 2016 campaign.

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: Transgender ban, GOP healthcare struggling, video games relieve work stress

What you need to know for Thursday, July 27.