President Bush just announced a lifting of the executive branch ban on most coastal drilling. It does not actually open up the coasts to drilling, because Congress would need to follow suit. The political intent is simply to put pressure on Congress to cave on drilling.
Bush's Rose Garden statement was artfully crafted. He lamented the high price of gas. He called for drilling off the coasts to "expand oil production."
But if you read it closely, you'll notice Bush did not explicitly claim that coastal drilling would significantly lower the price of the gas.
Because it won't. There's simply not enough oil there to make an impact.
Don't believe me? Ask the White House yourself.
Reporters already did last month. And the White House spokeswoman conceded the point. When answering a question how coastal drilling isn't a short-term solution, she said, "...there's not a real good short-term answer. And we've been very explicit about that from the beginning...There's not going to be a short-term response, and it would be irresponsible for anybody to suggest there would be."
Sen. John McCain also admitted that he doesn't see "immediate relief" from coastal drilling, but only a "psychological impact."
That's because based on numbers from Bush's own Energy Department, drilling in the banned areas off the coasts and in ANWR would only produce enough oil to reduce the price of gas $0.06 a gallon from where the cost would otherwise be two decades from now.
And the Energy Department specifically that coastal drilling alone would have no impact on prices until the year 2030.
Bush does not challenge the numbers from his Energy Department. He just ignores them.
But while Bush will not explicitly claim that coastal drilling will lower prices, he is certainly trying to exploit the pain Americans are feeling at the pump and mislead voters into believing more drilling will lead to lower prices.
Exploit and mislead. That what Bush knows best. But it will do nothing to lower our energy costs.
We need short-term relief, with a more robust and targeted economic stimulus package to help us deal with rising costs.
And we need a long-term energy policy that increases the supply of renewable energy and reduces demand with energy-efficient technologies.
By investing $30 billion a year for 10 years in the Apollo Alliance plan, we can create 3 million green-collar jobs and rapidly transition to a clean energy economy.
That's a third of the annual cost of the Iraq occupation, and half the time it would take to reduce gas prices 6 cents with coastal drilling.
The Bush administration had eight years to implement such a long-term energy policy that he himself says we need. In his own words: "in the long run, the solution is to reduce demand for oil by promoting alternative energy technologies."
He did nothing. And today, he proposes nothing. Nothing that would actually help us with rising energy costs.
Cross-posted at the Campaign for America's Future blog