Thursday, July 31, 2008

No matter how you compute it, this is just silly

Barack Obama has his answer to Republican calls to expand drilling for domestic oil.
There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy. Making sure your tires are properly inflated — simple thing. But we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling — if everybody was just inflating their tires? And getting regular tune-ups? You’d actually save just as much!
When you watch the video, you'll see the audience just sit there in silence as if they can't believe what he's saying and expect there to be some other punchline to his point, but there isn't.

Jim Geraghty does his own back-of-the-envelope computation about how much oil we'd save by inflating our tires and concludes that, with the most generous assumptions, if we had 100% properly inflated tires by every driver in the country, we'd save about 4.9 million to 6.5 million gallons per day. Contrast that the estimates of 1.6 trillion gallons of gasoline that could be recovered from the Outer Continental Shelf, not even including ANWR.

And that's assuming that all the cars today have poorly inflated tires and we'd get 100% improvement once everyone heard The One's advice to get our tires inflated. Of course, it's a good idea to get your tires properly inflated, but it's just ludicrous to compare this to the oil we could get by increasing our own domestic drilling.

John Hinderaker uses some different assumptions and reaches the following conclusions.
Americans drive approximately 2,880 billion miles per year. If we average 24 mpg, we use around 120 billion gallons of gasoline in our vehicles. If, through perfect tire inflation, we improved our collective fuel efficiency by 1.5%, that would be 1.8 billion gallons. A barrel of oil produces around 20 gallons of gasoline, so the total savings available through tire inflation is approximately 90,000,000 barrels of oil annually.

How does this stack up against "all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling?"

ANWR: 10 billion barrels
Outer Continental Shelf: 18 billion barrels (estimated; the actual total is undoubtedly much higher, since exploration has been banned)
Oil shale: 1 trillion barrels

So, on the above assumptions, it would take only 11,308 years of proper tire inflation to equal "all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling."
Ed Morrissey has some different contrasting numbers. I don't care how you slice it and what assumptions you make, this is just silly. As Morrissey concludes,
Maybe the Democrats could use a tune-up on energy policy. It looks like they’re still stuck in the 1970s, with tired, worn-out points and bad timing. On energy, Obama is your father’s 1973 Oldsmobile.
I guess his solution for fighting poverty will be for everyone to find the change in their sofa cushions. And students will improve their reading skills by reading restaurant menus. And we'll solve our population's problems with obesity just by skipping the free mints as we walk out of those restaurants.

Congressmen must be slapping their foreheads wishing that they'd figured out how to solve our energy problems. Yeah, now I can understand why Obama is seen as such a miracle worker. Look how easily he can solve our nation's problems!