Barack Obama's suggestion that we can't drill our way out of the current energy shortage, but we can solve the problem through tire inflation, has been the source of much hilarity. We did the math here, and found that it would take approximately 11,308 years of tire inflation to equal the energy we can obtain by developing our own petroleum resources.To repeat what McCain and I have both said, great -- fill up your tires! But we are still going to need the energy! Obama's claim has nothing to do with an energy plan and does not discount the need to drill.
Now, remarkably, Time magazine has rushed to the defense of its candidate, arguing that "Obama is right."
The author of the article, Michael Grunwald, mixes apple-and-orange statistics to try to create the false impression that there is more to be gained by inflating tires than through offshore drilling:
The Bush Administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 bbl. per day by 2030. We use about 20 million bbl. per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone did, we could immediately reduce demand several percentage points. In other words: Obama is right.
Grunwald is trying, through sleight of hand, to conceal certain basic facts: Obama said that tire inflation could save energy equal to "all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling,"
That's right: the EIA, writing in early 2007, assumed that oil prices would decline from their 2006 peak; that in 2008, the price of crude oil would be around $60 a barrel; that it would continue to decline until around 2013 to a low of about $50 a barrel; and that the price would then gradually increase to a little under $60 a barrel by 2030. Those were the assumptions on which EIA concluded that it would not be economically profitable to get most OCS oil out of the ground.
Earth to Michael Grunwald: that isn't what happened. The EIA was wrong. Currently crude oil is at around $120 per barrel, not $60. At the elevated prices we are now experiencing and are expected to experience in the future, vastly greater quantities of OCS oil (or ANWR oil, or shale oil) can profitably be exploited, and those resources can make a vastly greater contribution to our economic well-being.
When we read wildly inaccurate reporting in the mainstream media, it's often hard to tell whether the reporter is incompetent, or is deliberately trying to deceive. You can make your own guess. For now, suffice it to say that Time's attempt to rehabilitate Obama's tire-inflation gaffe is a failure.
Powerline Blog -- Time Tries To Salvage Obama's Gaffe