CNN's Erin Burnett Gets It Wrong On Drilling And Gas Prices

CNN's Erin Burnett claimed yesterday that drilling in the Arctic would lower U.S. gasoline prices, echoing a conservative narrative that has been debunked by energy experts across the ideological spectrum who say that expanding U.S. production will not affect the world oil market.

During a segment on Shell's drilling expedition in the Arctic, Burnett suggested that “more drilling” in the U.S. is a solution to high gas prices in California and across the nation, saying: “One way to bring down costs, of course, would be more drilling and that is a highly political topic.”

Meanwhile, Piers Morgan has repeatedly suggested that President Obama's energy policy is to blame for high gas prices.

But as their colleagues at CNN have explained, U.S. policies have little impact on the global price of oil. In April, CNN business correspondent Christine Romans said: “Republicans want to drill, drill, drill, drill, but just that won't solve the problem ... The only way to pay less for gas is to use less gas.”

Indeed, a recent analysis by the Associated Press found "[n]o statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump." Drilling in the Arctic won't lower gas prices - it requires high prices. What NPR described as “Shell's multibillion dollar gamble to make drilling in the Arctic profitable and environmentally safe” only makes economic sense if oil prices remain high.

Experts say that the long-term solution to U.S. vulnerability to high gas prices is not increasing oil production, but reducing our consumption by investing in fuel efficiency, public transit and alternative vehicles.

But drilling in the Arctic will only perpetuate our reliance on oil, and as Burnett went on to report, it could pose major environmental risks. Reports indicate that Shell may be unprepared to contain an oil spill in remote Arctic waters, which could be catastrophic for the fragile Arctic ecosystem. Even the CEO of Total, a French oil company, warned that the risk of an oil spill in the Arctic is too high to justify drilling there. And Arctic drilling will also release large amounts of methane and black carbon -- greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Meanwhile, Alaskan natives have expressed concerns that industrial development in the region could threaten local wildlife and their way of life.