In his Time magazine column, Joe Klein advocated drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) as a means of lowering gasoline prices. Contrary to Klein's suggestion, however, a U.S. Department of Energy study found that oil production in ANWR would have a relatively insignificant impact upon crude oil prices.
In his column in the May 15 edition of Time, Joe Klein advocated drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) as a means of lowering gasoline prices. But contrary to Klein's suggestion that oil from ANWR would help to alleviate high gas prices, a U.S. Department of Energy study, conducted by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to assess the potential impact of drilling in ANWR, found that oil production in ANWR would have a relatively insignificant impact upon crude oil prices.
From Klein's Time column:
A wonderful thing happened in Washington last week. Both political parties tried to bribe the American people past their anger over high gasoline prices, and the public response was a collective guffaw. The Republicans' $100- rebate bribe -- yet another indication that Senate majority leader Bill Frist has become the central clearinghouse for cheesy political ideas -- received most of the ridicule. But the Democrats were equally craven, proposing a two-month "holiday" from the 18(cent)-per-gal. federal gasoline tax. This is not to suggest that we have suddenly become a nation of policy connoisseurs with a well-honed sense of energy wonkery. But Americans do have a well-honed sense of baloney when they hear it. Which suggests that there might be an opportunity for political honesty, and for leadership, on this issue. "You're not going to get anywhere without doing something hard," Peter Orszag, a Brookings Institution domestic-policy analyst, told me. "You're not going to solve this with incentives -- by giving tax breaks for research on alternative fuels, or to people who buy hybrid cars, or by encouraging more drilling, which are the only things the politicians are willing to talk about right now. You have to discourage the use of energy by raising the price."
You're thinking, Uh-oh, here comes another high-minded argument for pain. Yes and no. Tax incentives for hybrid cars certainly won't hurt. And while I'm a big fan of caribou, drilling for oil on a patch of their Alaskan stomping ground doesn't seem an eco-disaster. There's also a new generation of safer nuclear-power technology that could replace oil- and coal-fueled electric power plants. But some sort of price jolt will also be necessary to wean the public away from fossil fuels, and it's going to have to be a big one.
As Media Matters for America noted, the EIA's 2004 analysis estimated that oil production in ANWR would reduce oil prices by a relatively insignificant 30 to 50 cents per barrel by 2025, "relative to a projected 2025 world oil price of $27 per barrel (2002 dollars)." The report also noted that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) "could countermand any potential price impact of ANWR coastal plain production by reducing its exports by an equal amount."