Ride A Bus, Save A Porsche

One of the liberals’ favorite antidotes to high gas prices is public transportation. If we would only ride buses and subways, they say, we’d barely notice $4 a gallon prices. Besides, there is something about seeing people crammed together in equal discomfort on public transportation that liberals just like.

It’s true, of course, that mass transit can reduce gas consumption. But today, House Republicans noted a startling statistic. The total amount of gasoline that is being saved by Americans riding buses, subways and trains is 1.4 billion gallons a year. (This figure is being trumpeted around Capitol Hill by the American Public Transportation Association.) Sound like a lot of gasoline? It is–around 91,000 barrels of oil per day.

But drilling in ANWR will produce eleven times as much gasoline as the total that is saved by all forms off mass transit, combined. There is enough petroleum in ANWR to produce a million barrels of oil a day for 30 years. At today’s prices, that would reduce the payments we make to foreign governments and their captive oil companies by around $1 trillion.

So what are we waiting for?

UPDATE: My friend Bob Cunningham, who knows a lot about energy markets, thinks the Republicans used too high a conversion factor to convert barrels to gallons. A barrel of oil is 42 gallons, but it produces only around 20 gallons of gasoline. The rest consists of byproducts that are also valuable, like heating oil and kerosene. So here is Bob’s corrected calculation:

1mm bbls/day production in ANWR * 365 *30 = 10.95^9 bbls of reserves, which I think is correct.

At a savings of 1.4 billion GALLONS of gasoline per year….that comes to

1.4*10^9¸365¸42 = 91,000 bbl. per day if 1 bbl of crude = 42 gallon of gasoline; if ANWR produces 1mm bbl = approximately 11 times;

However, @ 20 GALLONS per bbl, 1.4*10^9¸365¸20 = 191,000 bbls/day; ANWR production would be a factor of 5x.

Which means that exploiting ANWR would give us five times as much gasoline as what we are now saving through mass transit. But the House Republicans weren’t entirely wrong either, since most of the other oil products (e.g., heating oil) would also have helped to meet our energy needs, albeit not by fueling vehicles.

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