The Public Square

Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy on offshore oil drilling


Hi, I'm Robert Naiman and I'mm Senior Policy Analyst at Just Foreign Policy, which seeks to reform US foreign policy by engaging more Americans in advocating for foreign policies based on the values and interests of the majority of Americans.

John McCain is urging Americans to support overturning a ban on most oil drilling off our coasts as a way to bring down gas prices. But the federal government's Energy Information Administration projects that Senator McCain's proposal would have no impact on gas prices in the near-term since it will be close to a decade before the first oil could be extracted. The EIA projects production would reach 200,000 barrels a day at peak production. It describes this amount as too small to have any significant effect on oil prices, even when production is at its peak.

If the US had raised auto fuel efficiency standards between 1985-2005 by a quarter of the amount it raised them annually from 1980-1985, instead of leaving them virtually unchanged, the result would roughly have been the equivalent of 3.3 million barrels of oil per day in new production,16 times the projected impact of offshore drilling.

If we negotiated a deal with Iran that led to the lifting of US sanctions, oil production in Iran could increase 1-2 million barrels a day. That would be 5-10 times the projected impact of drilling off our coasts.

Wouldn't it be better to pursue modest conservation and negotiations with Iran, having the effect of bringing 20-25 times as much oil on the market, rather than endanger tourism, fishing, and beaches on our coasts for a long-term effect that we won't even notice?

You can find more information about efforts to promote real negotiations with Iran on our website,