Paul Krugman suggests in his column today that Senator McCain's conversion to offshore drilling has more to do with politics than lowering gas prices.
As I wrote yesterday, drilling on the outer shelf won't produce enough oil to have a significant impact on the price of crude oil. But it may very well increase McCain's appeal to the Republican base.
As many reports have noted, the McCain/Bush policy on offshore drilling doesn’t make sense as a response to $4-a-gallon gas: the White House’s own Energy Information Administration says that exploiting the outer shelf wouldn’t yield noticeable amounts of oil until the 2020s, and even at peak production its impact on oil prices would be “insignificant.”
But what I haven’t seen emphasized is the broader picture: Mr. McCain has now aligned himself with an administration that, even aside from its blame-the-environmental-movement tendencies, has established an extensive track record as the gang that couldn’t think straight about energy policy...
So why would Mr. McCain associate himself with these characters? The answer, presumably, is that it’s a cynical political calculation.
I’m reasonably sure that Mr. McCain’s advisers realize that offshore drilling would do nothing for current gas prices. But they may believe that the public can be conned. A Rasmussen poll taken before Mr. McCain’s announcement suggests that the public favors expanded offshore drilling, and believes (wrongly) that this would lower gasoline prices.
And Mr. McCain may also hope to shore up his still fragile relations with the Republican base... there are many people on the right who believe that all our energy problems have been caused by sanctimonious tree-huggers. Mr. McCain has just thrown that constituency some red meat.
The entire article is linked.