Passing Gas at the Washington Post

Calling for more drilling for domestic oil to do something about rising gas prices makes little sense. This should be a simple matter of economics or math–there’s not enough oil to recover from U.S. territory to affect global supply, and since oil is a commodity traded on a global market, only an increase in the global supply can affect the price.

Nonetheless, one major political party in this country holds out more drilling as the solution to high prices, and thus that point of view is treated with respect. Take the Washington Post piece today (5/4/11) by Juliet Eilperin, headlined “Soaring Prices Alter Energy Debate a Year After Gulf Spill: A Drive for More Drilling.”

The article manages to convey–in passing–that this policy solution wouldn’t really work, but nonetheless treats it as if it were a respectable policy option:

Just one year after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 and triggered a massive oil spill, there’s little appetite among legislators for new safety regulations. Instead, a single concern is prompting a drive for more drilling: $4-a-gallon gas.

Increased drilling wonâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t bring down the immediate cost U.S. consumers pay at the pump, but soaring fuel prices have transformed the U.S. energy debate, motivating the House this week to take up at least one of three bills that would ease the way for more energy exploration off both coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico.

So more drilling won’t help in an “immediate” way, but as a response to high prices Congress is considering bills to encourage more drilling. The piece does quote critics who point out that increased drilling isn’t going to matter, immediately or otherwise–the Post attributes this analysis to “Democrats and environmentalists.” As Dean Baker put it, “Tell the Washington Post that All Non-Flat Earthers Believe that Oil Prices Are Determined in a Global Market.”

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.