19 June 2008

A Marshmallow in Every Pot, Part II

I was surprised to see the gas tax holiday rear its ugly head again this week, after it was denounced as a joke by the Obama campaign in April. McCain is continuing to advance this bad idea, and now he's thinking about changing his position on drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). President Bush, God bless him, is using his enormous political capital in the last months of his administration to press for drilling now to alleviate the cost of gas at the pump, which now averages more than $4 a gallon (side note: I heard on the radio this morning a report that $5-a-gallon gas has been spotted in New York City).

Here's the catch. According to Bush's own Energy Department, the expected savings from drilling in ANWR is 75 cents a barrel. What's more is that we won't extract a productive stream of the stuff until 2018 A blogger/economist (I know - why should we pay attention to them?) suggests that the savings from drilling in ANWR will be 2 cents a gallon. At that price, the case for saving the wildlife refuge as a national treasure and a hallmark of conservation becomes far more compelling.

So I also heard on the radio that the average vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for April 2006 has actually dropped nationwide. People are driving less and relying increasingly on transit. Given the cost of oil and the marginal ineffectiveness of exploring in ANWR, perhaps are money is better spent on transit, and researching more fuel efficient cars and alternative energy sources.