What Ever Happened to 'Drill Baby, Drill'?

During 2008, when gasoline topped $4 a gallon in many parts of the U.S., political figures like former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) chanted the popular cry: “Drill Here, Drill Now!” Bumper stickers calling for expanded drilling in the U.S. were ubiquitous, and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin relentlessly pushed to have the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) opened for drilling.

Average, everyday Americans were heavily involved as well. And taken in retrospect, 2008’s “Drill Here, Drill Now” movement became so vocal that the push for expanded domestic oil production was nothing less than a precursor to the tea parties that popped up throughout the U.S. in 2009.

Yet here we are in 2010, and the mantra is lost. After gas prices fell in late 2008, many of the “Drill Here, Drill Now” crowd apparently moved on to other causes. As a result, we didn’t drill here and we now face the prospect of paying $3.25 (or more) a gallon for our gasoline this coming summer. And estimates are that this approaching price increase will raise the average American's monthly gasoline expenditures beyond what many can bear.

To put this into perspective, during the first week of 2010 gasoline prices had already increased so much that the Associated Press reported that “a typical motorist [would pay] about $50 more a month" for gasoline in the early months of 2010 than that same motorist paid during the latter months of 2009. Moreover, if we broaden our view so that it includes the country as a whole and not just individual motorists, a future without expanded domestic drilling looks bleak. According to Oil Price Information Service analyst Tom Kloza, “The current U.S. fuel bill [is] about $1.066 billion each day. A year ago, that daily outlay was about $625 million.’’

And don’t forget -- we’re still in the middle of a recession, folks. The high gas prices we dealt with in 2008 weren’t exacerbated by Obama’s “hope and change” the way the coming spike in prices will be.