Having said that, I am not in favor of lifting the offshore drilling ban because drilling for oil off the east coast of the U.S. is stupid. Here's why.
The USGS says there are 17.8 billion barrels of undiscovered recoverable resources(read Not Proven Reserves) in waters currently off limits to exploration. The EIA says production couldn't really get started until 2017 and wouldn't be fully ramped up for another 15 years until about 2030. Remember the U.S. uses more than 7 billion barrels a year. Great, there might be two and a half more years worth of oil. Even if we could start pumping at full capacity today when my daughter is 2 ½, she'll be 5 when all that oil is used up.
Even when production is pumping at full capacity, additional offshore drilling facilities would amount to about 200,000 barrels per day (bpd). The US currently uses 21 million bpd. This does not take into account the increase in oil consumption necessary to continue to grow our economy. The bottom line is that additional offshore drilling will provide 1.2% of the oil we use every day if we don't increase consumption and we're willing to wait 20 years.
Oh and if the oil companies don't sell that oil to other countries. Remember, we currently export about 1.5 million barrels of oil from the US every day. There is no guarantee that big oil will even keep this measly 200,000 bpd in the US.
Notice I didn't even mention the possible environmental catastrophes or the hit tourism might take if lounging at the beach starts to include a beautiful view of the flare from a drilling rig. Well, I didn't mention them until now.
Offshore oil is politicians playing the blame game and that's all it is. The sad part is that a majority of Americans are falling for it while their leaders, Republicans and Democrats alike, continue to refuse to act appropriately.
If you want a quick test of whether or not a politican understands energy issues ask her if she'd like to see the cost of gasoline go down. If she says yes, she doesn't know what the hell she's talking about.