NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 8, 2007

Crude oil futures have surged to record highs recently, propelled by a sharp drop in crude oil supplies -- a problem that could have been averted had Congress started taking steps 10 years ago, says H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

Time and again Congress has missed opportunities to utilize the billions of barrels of oil locked off-shore and in Alaska, says Burnett. For example:

  • If Congress had opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration back in 1990, when the issue was first debated, we would have that oil today.
  • If Congress had opened ANWR and allowed off-shore drilling as part of the energy legislation debated at the start of the Bush presidency, at least some new production would be coming online now.
  • If Congress had acted in 2005, when the supply issues were again debated, we would be at least a few years down the road toward lessening energy dependence.

Tapping new oil in the United States would reduce prices because it would increase supply to world markets, and the location of new oil would reduce uncertainty and price instability, says Burnett.  But Instead of taking proactive steps to increase supplies, Congress has fiddled around while consumers burned what we had.

Source: "Tapping new oil in the U.S. would reduce prices," National Center for Policy Analysis, November 7, 2007.

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