Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | 2:06 a.m.
Numerous letters have advocated opening up our coastlines and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling as a way of lowering gas prices, arguing that an increase in supply will lower prices. Unfortunately U.S. oil reserves are estimated to be less than 2 percent of the world’s supply.
Global supply and demand will dictate the price of oil and the hard reality is a country with less than 2 percent of oil reserves cannot produce enough oil to affect global market prices. Drilling proponents also ignore the fact that the oil industry has yet to exploit millions of acres that have been leased and are available for drilling.
Proof of the supply-side argument’s weakness has been the rise in natural gas prices even though the Bush administration, throughout its tenure, has fast-tracked energy development on Western lands to the point where even the conservative Wyoming Legislature has expressed concern about the impacts on rangelands and wildlife resources. If accelerated drilling to increase supply lowers prices, why are we not reaping that supply-side benefit?
The advocates of more drilling miss the larger economic and environmental context in which reducing demand, as environmentalists have advocated for the past 30 years, would have had a far greater economic benefit than drilling in sensitive areas now.
We the people bought into the idea that there would be no consequences to wasting a finite, critical resource by driving vehicles getting less than 15 miles per gallon as some kind of fashion statement. The market does punish foolishness.