NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 20, 2008

High gas prices may soften the opposition of some states to offshore drilling, say Ben Arnoldy and Amy Green of the Christian Science Monitor.

Voter frustration with dependence on foreign oil and $4-a-gallon gas have primed political pumps for more domestic drilling, say Arnoldy and Green.  Despite the national support for drilling, the politically blue coasts hold a virtual veto in Congress.  But experts say all the attention on the issue could push some of the more conservative coastal states to lift their own moratoriums.


  • A new Rasmussen poll, taken prior to the Bush and McCain proposals to expand offshore oil drilling, found 67 percent of voters supportive of more offshore drilling.
  • The Department of Interior's Mineral Management Services estimates there are 18 billion barrels of oil offshore under federal moratorium and another 10 billion to 12 billion in Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR).
  • As for environmental impact, each year 47 million gallons of oil seep out naturally into US ocean waters; this far exceeds the 870,000 gallons of petroleum leaked in offshore exploration and drilling, according to the National Academies of Sciences.

Richard Carter, with the Defenders of Wildlife, argues there is no need to lift moratoriums when the oil industry is sitting on 33 billion acres of offshore leases they haven't developed.

A lot of undeveloped leases may not have a lot of resources, counters H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.  Burnett argues that expanding drilling in U.S. waters would add to the pool of oil from stable, reliable sources -- helping curb speculation.  He says opponents of drilling overestimate the time frame for new development, and some projects have turned around in 18 months.

Source: Ben Arnoldy and Amy Green, "On U.S. Coasts, A Rethink On Oil Drilling?" the Christian Science Monitor, June 20, 2008.

For text:


Browse more articles on Environment Issues