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'Drill here, drill now' is drilled in to Americans

September 4, 2008 | 12:27 pm

Oil rigs

"access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030."

That is what the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its February 2007 annual energy outlook.

So, why is it that 51% of Americans apparently believe that drilling here, drilling now would have an immediate effect on gasoline prices at the pump?

The Center for Economic Policy and Research blames television news, which has been reporting on the Republican Party's mantra, and that of its presumptive presidential candidate, John McCain, without referencing the projections of the widely respected agency, a branch of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Authors Mark Weisbrot and Nichole Szembrot write:

The polls indicate that McCain’s effort has been successful. For example, 69 percent of respondents favored such expanded drilling, and 51 percent said that they believed that “federal laws that prohibit increased drilling for oil offshore or in wilderness areas” were a “major cause of the recent increase in gasoline prices.”

The top television news programs barely referenced the EIA report, and if they did, they did so through a partisan source: generally the Barack Obama campaign:

Out of 267 news programs between June 16th and August 9th, in major media outlets on this subject, there was only one, or less than one half of one percent, that cited the EIA’s estimate that the increased oil production would not significantly affect gasoline prices. There were 24 other news programs that provided some similar information from other sources, usually partisan – e.g. Barack Obama. However, this is not the same thing as citing official statistics.

So, in case anyone glossed over the EIA statement, here it is again:

"access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030."

-- Geoffrey Mohan

Photo: Offshore rigs near Huntington Beach. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

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