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Fact: US Drilling Doesn't Lower Gas Prices

The ‘drill, baby, drill’ approach to energy won’t ease your pain at the pump according to an analysis by the Associated Press. In an article running in papers across the country, AP puts it simply: “…more U.S. drilling has not changed how deeply the gas pump drills into your wallet, math and history show.”

The AP’s findings are not surprising. Gasoline prices are subject to the global oil market that U.S. producers cannot control. Changes in the price at the pump do not follow U.S. oil supply trends.

The AP compared inflation-adjusted gas prices to U.S. oil production from 1976 to the present and found no correlation between them. If they were connected one would expect a consistent trend where gas prices eased as production from drilling increased. But AP’s statistical analysis did not bear this out. Multiple statisticians and economists consulted by AP for verification of their analysis also agreed with the findings.

In a recent speech, Senator Jeff Bingamin also pointed out the lack of a relationship between U.S. oil production and gas prices using the chart below.

Bingamin gas prices v drilling 2012-03-07.PNG

Senator Bingamin: “Here, the red line is the change in domestic production, year over year.  The blue line is gasoline prices. And what’s striking about this chart is the lack of relationship between the two lines.  Even with U.S. production increasing as it was at some points, oil prices were also increasing, and gas prices were also increasing.”

Many pundits choose to ignore the facts and play a gas price blame game that focuses on drilling everywhere and expanding polluting tar sands from Canada. These wrong-headed prescriptions only serve to confuse an already frustrated public. The only guaranteed way to lower consumers’ fuel bills is to provide ways to use less gasoline.

We have clean energy strategies that can move us beyond oil and loosen oil's grip on our economy. Using known and cost-effective technologies and measures we can provide more choices of fuel-efficient vehicles, cleaner and cheaper non-petroleum fuels and alternatives to driving alone. Recent improvements in federal automobile standards are already bolstering a rise in the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks.

Recently proposed auto standards to reach the equivalent of 54.5 mpg by 2025 will save the average driver $4,400 over the life of their vehicle due to fewer trips to the gas pump.

Improved fuel efficiency and other clean energy solutions are what policymakers should be supporting. The facts don’t support more U.S. drilling as a solution to high gas prices. It’s good to see AP set the story straight. The public needs the facts and clean energy solutions. As history shows, we’ve drilled and drilled and it doesn’t help your wallet.

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