Implicit in much coverage of the offshore drilling debate is that such oil has the potential to lower gasoline prices. The L.A. Times' report (3/30/10) on the Obama administration's new offshore drilling plan provided this context:
The announcement will come in the run-up to summer driving season, as gasoline prices have begun a national march toward $3 a gallon, and beyond that in California…. Energy companies and conservatives have clamored for increased drilling since gasoline prices spiked during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Like virtually all offshore-drilling coverage (CEPR, 9/08), the L.A. Times doesn't note that drilling in coastal areas will have only the most minimal impact on the price of gasoline–and even that trivial impact would be a decade away. According to the federal Energy Information Administration, considered the authoritative source on energy, opening up the entire continental shelf of the lower 48 states would have virtually no effect on all on crude prices: "Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant." This information ought to be included in every report on offshore drilling.
See Extra! Update: "Failing to Do the Math on Oil: Support for Offshore Drilling Increases Following Media Misinformation" (8/08) by Hannah Dreier.