Significant factors that must be considered in the discussion about lifting the ban on new offshore oil drilling in the United States:
1--Domestic oil refineries are running at capacity--the ones that are even being used. A lot of them have been shut down, and the oil companies have given every indication of wanting to shut down MORE. See, the thing is, increased refining capacity increases the supply of available gas at any given time, which drives down the per-unit price. This is BAD for oil companies, you know? After all, if they're running more refineries at greater overhead cost and the result is that gas is cheaper, they lose assloads of profit. So when people talk about drilling offshore, this is a crucially important reality that they're ignoring.
2--There are existing offshore leases that are not being used. The amount is at least 50 million acres. New drilling is expensive, and it takes a long time to set up. If yet more offshore areas are opened up for oil leases, plenty of people have pointed out that it would take 10 years to actually find the oil supplies available, drill for them, and start pumping them out of the ground. And there isn't all that much oil there, so it wouldn't be like a huge supply of new oil hitting the market. It would be a tiny increase in available oil, with enormous potential for increased environmental pollution, and all of this when the refineries are running at capacity anyway, so what would we even do with all that oil?
3--The Republicans don't want you to consider this, but if they open up offshore facilities for oil drilling by private, for-profit oil companies, and those oil companies are already running available domestic refineries at capacity, what's going to happen with that oil? Are they gonna put it in cold storage to sell to Americans slowly over the next however long? Nope. They're gonna sell it to whoever wants it. And China wants a lot of oil right now. They've got way more capacity to buy up an increased supply of it than we do. So what will happen is that that oil will hit the world market and most of it will be bought up elsewhere. So yes, domestic gasoline supplies will continue to come from middle eastern sources, and the oil drilled in America will ironically end up sold mostly in foreign nations. We could only stop this by nationalizing our domestic oil production a la Venezuela and selling gasoline through the government. That kind of blatant socialism would be wonderful and save everyone in America a lot of money, but it will NEVER NEVER HAPPEN. EVER.
4--Keep in mind that, even if you ignore my previous caveats about how increased domestic oil production wouldn't really have any effect on refined gasoline supply in America, gas prices will continue to be set by the global market. If you can get $4 for gas in America, why the fuck would you want to decrease prices? Keep the prices high, and increase profit! At this point, we'll never see gas under three bucks again, I don't think. Hell, the companies could drop the average price of a gallon to $3.50 right now and we'd all think it was a fucking bonanza after what we've been paying for the last year. So really, as long as people keep buying the more expensive product, no amount of drilling or supply-increase is ever going to lower the price. The laws of supply and demand only work to the extent that increased supply can drive the price down to a point that people will pay it. Once a price is found that the market will bear, what reason does anyone have to find a lower price? Especially when the alternative is increased profit?
Don't buy into it, people. It's a bunch of fucking oil company hype.