I’ve written previously about the neglible impact that enhanced domestic drilling would have, but as Republicans chant “drill, baby, drill”, I thought it would be wise, but probably fruitless, to mention that arguing that expanded domestic drilling will reduce dependence on “foreign oil” is about as daft as believing it will lower prices at the pump. Let’s follow the illogic all the way through.
So let’s say God’s way is implemented and expanded drilling offshore and in ANWR is opened. Next, private oil companees like ExxonMobil set up shop (this doesn’t happen overnight, by the way) and begin extracting oil. This is where Republicans seem to begin entering know-nothing mode.
John McCain would have you believe that this oil is magically refined and dumped from the heavens, and through divine osmosis, fuels America’s cars and reduces prices at the pump. The desirability of this scenario notwithstanding, that’s not quite how it works.
In reality, crude oil is a commodity, which means that because it’s essentially the same anywhere, it’s price is based on global demand. This means that when oil companies extract crude oil, they essentially put it on eBay, only the bidders aren’t people looking for knock off Armani, but multinational oil companies who refine the oil, foreign governments (as recent lessons in Iraq teach us), or worse, the much dreaded oil speculators. This oil is sold and in turn refined to be finally sold as gasoline at the pump (among other things). The process is obviously more intricate than this, but the basic truth to be distilled is that oil drilled in America goes to the highest bidder, not necessarily Americans.
Now, some Republicans when faced with this salient truth will suggest that increasing world supply by tapping more geopolitically stable areas will help reduce the price of oil. There is some basic truth to this (though, as mentioned before, its impact would be quite limited), but the larger problem is that because oil is traded globally, so long as there is instability anywhere where oil is extracted, the increase in price will be felt everywhere. The long and short of this is that so long as we import roughly two-thirds of our oil, enhanced domestic drilling will do little to insulate Americans from the problems of foreign instability.
Alternatively, the oil could always be nationalized, but somehow I doubt Republicans are interested in that.