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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Prof: ANWR oil "too small to notice"

Writing in today's San Jose Mercury News, UC Berkeley professor Severin Borenstein says the volume of oil estimated in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge might reduce U.S. gas prices at the pump by 4 cents, "but will almost certainly do no more than that."

"How can it be that producing a million additional U.S. barrels of oil a day can have so little benefit for U.S. consumers?" Borestein asks in his column. "Simple. The oil doesn't belong to U.S. consumers. ... The new supplies become just drops in the worldwide oil bucket."

Borenstein, a business and public policy professor, is also director of the UC Energy Institute. He goes on to say, in words that stick, that we will never achieve "energy independence" as long as oil is our primary fuel. And the average American consumer's belief that they are entitled to cheap oil is a falacy that has been reinforced by political myth-makers who know it has traction with voters.

Politicians, he says, have knowingly let the nation become more and more dependent on a resource that is increasingly held in fewer hands. They have repeatedly failed to show the courage required to tell Americans the truth, which is that we all must sacrifice to reduce our dependence on a limited resource held by oppressive foreign governments.

"The current powers in Washington are not the first invertebrates to fail that challenge," Borenstein writes. "They are just the most successful in promoting the myth that drilling in Alaska is an alternative strategy for curbing oil prices."

In less than 700 words, Borenstein presents this truth more memorably than any commentator in recent years.

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