Drivers Say U.S. Should Drill for Oil on Federal Lands

Kaitlynn Riely and Michael Gryboski | Correspondents | Monday, June 9, 2008

Drivers Say U.S. Should Drill for Oil on Federal Lands

On the Spot ( - A recent Department of Interior report, requested by Congress, estimates there are 139 billion barrels of undiscovered oil in the United States, onshore and off-shore combined -- more than the known oil reserves of Iran, Iraq or Russia. But most of that oil cannot be tapped because of environmental regulations.
Cybercast News Service spoke to people at a gas station in Alexandria, Va., last Thursday, where unleaded gas was selling for $4.09 per gallon, and asked this question: Should the U.S. be allowed to tap into the billions of barrels of oil that are on federal lands, but which are off limits because they lie under national parks or are protected by environmental laws? (Watch video)

"Whatever it takes to get my gas prices lower, to tell you the truth," said "Al" from Waldorf, Md. "Obviously we've got to save some for the future and stuff like that. But at the same time, I'm paying an awful lot for gas and it's gone up so fast in such a short amount of time. [It] doesn't really make a lot of sense to a lot of people."

"Dennis" of Alexandria, Va., agreed. "I think we should go get it," he said, adding that he was opposed to drilling in ANWR, the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. "But offshore," he said, "I don't think they've had a leak in years."

The Bureau of Land Management estimates there are 7.7 billion barrels of petroleum in Alaska's ANWR, but the area is protected by the government and drilling for oil is prohibited.

"Eric" from Peru said he thinks the U.S. government should keep the oil right where it is, in case of an emergency.

"Coy" from Temple Hills, Md., also considered future petroleum needs.

"We should be pumping it," he said. "And maybe look into some better fuel too, because, you know, sometime later we're automatically going to start running out of oil. The prices are ridiculous, I'm telling you. Too high."

But prices here aren't as high as they are in Europe, where a gallon of gas in some countries costs more than double the price in the United States, as "Henry from Alexandria" pointed out. Still, he supports drilling for domestic oil.

"Why not? I mean, anything that will help the prices," he said. "But at the same time, we've been lucky to have the prices we've had for so long."

Despite the fact that the government says the U.S. has plenty of oil on federally owned lands, more than half of it is off-limits, making it unlikely that expansion of domestic oil production will start any time soon, unless Congress and the president take action to reverse certain laws and regulations.

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