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Over the past two weeks, The Oklahoman has published a series of articles promoting expanded domestic oil and gas drilling, claiming that increased U.S. production would limit the price volatility of gasoline and lower prices for consumers, even though experts agree that expanding American oil production would not mean lower gas prices and would still leave us "vulnerable to any shocks to the system."
From The Oklahoman (emphasis added):
[Rayola Dougher, senior economist at the American Petroleum Institute] said it is nearly impossible to predict what will happen to the price of oil if domestic production in the United States continues to rise, but an increasing supply of oil likely would apply downward pressure to prices and benefit American consumers.
Lower oil prices could translate into reduced gasoline prices.
As TIME magazine pointed out in April, even if we could produce all the oil to meet our currently large demand, it wouldn't actually lower or stabilize oil and gasoline prices. From TIME:
While unconventional sources promise to keep the supply of oil flowing, it won't flow as easily as it did for most of the 20th century. The new supplies are for the most part more expensive than traditional oil from places like the Middle East, sometimes significantly so. They are often dirtier, with higher risks of accidents. The decline of major conventional oil fields and the rise in demand mean the spare production capacity that once cushioned prices could be gone, ushering in an era of volatile market swings.
[C]ontrary to what the drill-here, drill-now crowd says, oil companies could punch holes in every state and barely make a dent in gasoline prices. Even a more energy independent U.S. can't control prices, not with a thirsty China competing on the globalized oil market. "Energy security is fine, but it doesn't have that much meaning in a globalized economy," says Guy Caruso, a former head of the EIA. "More production adds fungibility to the world market, but we're still vulnerable to shocks in other countries." The oil the U.S. uses may be American, but that doesn't mean it will be cheap.
Guy Caruso, the U.S. Energy Information Administration Chief for six years under former President George W. Bush, has stated that "energy independence" through increased oil production is a "political slogan" and that the U.S. would still be "vulnerable to any shocks in the system."
These facts didn't stop The Oklahoman from pushing energy independence in its article on lower prices and less volatility. Instead they cited an economist from the American Petroleum Institute who said that energy independence would lower gasoline prices and an economist from Oklahoma City University who claimed that developing our own product would "help us smooth out that [price] volatility." The Oklahoman did not disclose that Agee is also an oil executive.
The Oklahoman regularly touts energy industry sources, something they did over 43 percent of the time in part one of their series, while leaving out the consensus of more neutral experts across the political spectrum that increasing domestic drilling would not lower gas prices. This is unsurprising, given that oil and gas magnate Philip Anschutz owns the newspaper.
When gasoline prices jumped to record levels in the summer of 2008, Fox News' purported energy expert Eric Bolling acknowledged the importance of reducing our oil consumption, a viewpoint missing from his more recent commentary on gasoline prices. In fact, Bolling didn't mention it at all during his hour-long Fox News special "Paying at the Pump," which was co-hosted by Sarah Palin.
In columns for the financial website TheStreet.com, Bolling recognized in 2008 that "[w]e need to decrease demand for oil and gas, not increase it" and "begin aggressive means to address the demand side of the equation," including lowering the national speed limit. And on Fox Business' Happy Hour, Bolling said that "supply's fairly stable" so "demand is what's most important" for oil prices:
But in 2012, his Fox News special on gas prices never mentioned how decreasing dependence on oil, by increasing vehicle fuel efficiency, for instance, could address what he called the "gasoline crisis." In fact, Bolling actually mocked Obama for suggesting people use gasoline efficiently and calling for government invest in research for alternative fuels.
Fox News and the rest of the far-right press have been relentlessly attacking Obama in recent days over rising gas prices, claiming the president is to blame for the latest, seasonal increase. (Surprise! The accusation is baseless.)
The robotic condemnation isn't exactly a surprise, since the conservative media blame Obama for everything. What's telling is how few Americans buy the partisan, ODS cries about gas pump prices.
From a recent McClatchy-Marist poll [emphasis added]:
36% of U.S. residents think the volatility in the Middle East is at fault while 34% say U.S. oil companies are the culprits. 11% hold President Obama and the Democrats responsible, and 7% find fault with Congressional Republicans. Three percent of Americans blame state and local taxes, and one in ten -- 10% -- are unsure.
"There's plenty of blame to go around for high fuel prices in the minds of Americans," says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. "Although this is an issue that hits close to home, right now it isn't being laid at President Obama's doorstep."
On his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck did not challenge former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister's assertion that drilling in ANWR would "probably" produce oil in "two or three years." In fact, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration concluded that any benefit from drilling in ANWR would not impact the U.S. oil supply for at least a decade.
Fox news host Gregg Jarrett did not challenge the false assertion by U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman that "[w]hen we had Katrina and Rita, the two worst hurricanes in at least in recent memory, in '05, some three years ago, there was not one case where we had a -- a situation with oil or gas being spilled in the environment." In fact, according to a 2007 report prepared for the U.S. Minerals Management Service, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in 124 spills from outer continental shelf structures with a total volume of more than 17,000 barrels of petroleum.
CBS' Chip Reid stated, "[Sen. John] McCain says he now supports increased offshore drilling, as do 73 percent of Americans, because, he says, more oil supplies will bring prices down," and went on to claim, "[Sen. Barack] Obama says offshore drilling harms the environment, and looks to the past, not the future." But Reid provided no indication that Obama has directly rebutted the suggestion that "increased offshore oil drilling ... will bring prices down" by pointing to the conclusion of "most experts, even within the Bush Administration," that doing so would not affect gas prices for many years.
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."
On Meet the Press, Tom Brokaw asked Al Gore if, on the subject of renewable energy, "Hillary Clinton reset this debate when she said there should be a summer holiday on the federal gas tax." But Brokaw did not mention that Sen. John McCain also proposed a gas-tax holiday or that one of his top advisers still touts the plan as "the best stimulus package we can have right now."
Sean Hannity falsely suggested that federal areas legally available for leasing by oil companies contain no oil. In fact, federal agencies have estimated that more oil exists on the tens of millions of acres of federal areas currently legally available for drilling than there is in the areas currently off limits to drilling.
In an article citing the newly released Field Poll, The Wall Street Journal reported that "43% of Californians support the idea of drilling for oil or natural gas along the state's coast, compared with 51% who oppose it," without noting that the poll question included the false suggestion that "drill[ing] more oil and gas wells in state tidelands" would in fact "deal with the rising cost of energy" in the near future.
On Bill O'Reilly's radio show, financial commentator Jonathan Hoenig said: "[I]f there's bad guys out there, Bill, and you alluded to Iran and whatnot -- let's deal with them militarily. You know, we didn't win -- win World War II by cutting back on German sausages." Hoenig has previously advocated military strikes on Iran and North Korea in appearances on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto.
The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times each reported that "Democrats and environmental groups" say that allowing new offshore drilling would not have an effect on oil and gas prices in the next several years. They did not note that it is not just Democrats and environmental groups that say this: The Bush Energy Department has determined that production from offshore drilling "would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030" and that such production is expected to have an "insignificant" effect on "average wellhead prices."
The Washington Post ran an article under the headline "Offshore Drilling Backed as Remedy for Oil Prices," but the article itself noted that "the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration [EIA] said that .... 'Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.' " The article also noted that the EIA said that "access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030."
Fox Business Network's Eric Bolling asserted that, according to offshore oil "drillers" with whom he had spoken, "China was probably drilling offshore, very close to our shore through Cuba, and taking some of that oil that -- that honestly could -- could and should be helping our situation." His assertion that China was drilling "very close to our shore" echoed a claim made by Vice President Dick Cheney -- citing columnist George Will -- that both Cheney and Will have since corrected.