Sam Ori appeared on CNN Newsroom on March 12, 2022 with Bianna Golodryga.
By Ella Nilsen
As US oil and gasoline prices skyrocket, politicians in both parties have called for a seemingly easy solution: Drill our way out of the problem to ease prices at the pump and supply additional energy to Europe.
“The president must end his war on American energy,” Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said in a recent statement. “Republicans have been demanding the administration take the shackles off American energy producers since President Biden took office. We have the energy at home and we must use it.”
But the US is already the world’s top producer of crude oil, producing about 11.6 million barrels of oil per day as of December – and that supply is increasing, energy experts told CNN. The country is also the world’s largest consumer of oil, using about 21 million barrels per day in 2019 – 20% of the world’s total.
Buried under US soil lies an estimated 38.2 billion barrels worth of proven oil reserves that are still untapped, according to the US Energy Information Administration. But there’s a big impediment to the US using that oil: It tends to be lighter and different from the heavier imported oil we currently rely on.
The idea that the US can be fully energy independent – and that it would combat rising gas prices – is a fantasy, numerous experts told CNN.
“What Americans and US officials really care about is the price of gasoline, and that has almost nothing to do about whether we’re energy independent or not,” said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group. “Can the US wall itself off from volatility in the global oil market? The answer is no.”
It’s too early to tell whether the current price shock will spur a change in how Americans consume oil, but experts said it’s forcing a hard look at how the country uses it.
“The issue the US is grappling with from a security standpoint – we’re dependent on oil,” Sam Ori, executive director of the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute, told CNN. “The idea that if we produce more oil in some way it would help with that problem – it’s just not true.”