McCain Lies About the Price of Gas Again

20 August 2008

In another cruel and cynical ploy to dupe voters into thinking he can bring down the price of gas, McCain said this aboard a Chevron oil rig:

McCain traveled 130 miles by helicopter to tour the massive facility, which produces 10,000 barrels of oil each day. He criticized his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, for not supporting such a plan.

"He says it won't solve our problem and that it's, quote, not real. He's wrong and the American people know it," McCain told reporters.

Obama's campaign, meanwhile, called the four-hour excursion nothing more than a stunt. Obama supporter and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack compared McCain's position to the "Beverly Hillbillies" television program where the main character — Jed Clampett — stumbles onto an oil gusher. McCain, he said, has "a Jed Clampett energy policy."

McCain and his aides believe the pocketbook approach can connect with voters.

"Americans across our country are hurting, as we all know, because of the cost of energy," McCain said aboard the rig. "Gas prices are through the roof. Energy costs have seeped into our grocery bills, making it more expensive to feed our families. Now as we prepare for the winter, it's time for us to be more serious about our home heating oil needs. ... And that means we need to start drilling offshore, at advanced oil rigs like this one."

I like the Jed Clampett line. It's also worth pointing out that McCain's original plan to visit the oil rig had coincided with a major oil spill. Seriously. You can't make this stuff up.

In reality, McCain is way off the mark. The Department of Energy says that at peak production (which they project to occur around the year 2030), we'd only see an extra 220,000 barrels of oil per day from opening up the protected OCS areas. According to the DoE, this would have an "insignificant" impact on the price of gas. Even the way more optimistic (and unrealistic) projections from the National Petroleum Council (which exists "to represent the views of the oil and natural gas industries") only see an extra 990,000 barrels of oil per day in the year 2025. Compare that to the world market, which already consumes 86 million barrels of oil per day today, and you see that this will not have any real effect on the price of gas. At best, pennies per gallon.

As I've explained earlier, both of these estimates should really be cut in half, since half of the protected OCS region is off the coast of California, and they're pretty solidly against opening up these areas for drilling.

OPEC controls 2/3 of the world's oil reserves. They can manipulate the globally-set price-per-barrel. We control 3% of the world's oil reserves. We cannot manipulate the globally-set price-per-barrel. McCain is simply wrong, and it's crazy to see so many people jumping on the fantasy bandwagon with him.

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