A number of politicians are once again trotting out some long-standing energy myths, such as the claim that opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling will lower prices at the gas pump.

This claim has been shown repeatedly to be untrue. The U.S. Energy Information Administration issued a report in 2008 on the impacts of oil production in the refuge (http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/anwr/results.html).

Recognizing that even if the refuge were opened to drilling, actual oil production would be years away, the report?s most optimistic scenario found a reduction of $1.44 per barrel (42 gallons) of light crude oil by 2027. Its low and mid-range projections were 41 cents (2026) and 75 cents (2025) per barrel, respectively.

The report also notes ?there is considerable uncertainty regarding both the size and quality of the oil resources that exist in ANWR. Thus, the potential ultimate oil recovery and potential yearly production are highly uncertain.?

This report was compiled under the Bush administration, which favored drilling in the refuge. But the EIA was clear in its conclusion that doing so would not lower prices at the pump at all in the near term, nor significantly in the long term.

The fact that wilderness areas are off limits to drilling seems to enrage some people, but they should remember that oil companies already hold leases to millions of acres of federal land.

A congressional report in 2008 (again, during the Bush administration) found that oil companies held leases to nearly 68 million acres of lands and waters on which they were not drilling.

Stephen Poss

Baton Rouge Group of the Sierra Club


Baton Rouge