Perspicacious Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson has a simple elegant suggestion for boosting oil production and helping to lower prices. Why not drill for crude at home? He points out:
It may surprise Americans to discover that the United States is the third-largest oil producer, behind Saudi Arabia and Russia. We could be producing more, but Congress has put large areas of potential supply off-limits. These include the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and parts of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. By government estimates, these areas may contain 25 billion to 30 billion barrels of oil (against about 30 billion barrels of proven U.S. reserves today) and 80 trillion cubic feet or more of natural gas (compared with about 200 tcf of proven reserves).
What keeps these areas closed are exaggerated environmental fears, strong prejudice against oil companies and sheer stupidity. Americans favor both "energy independence" and cheap fuel. They deplore imports—who wants to pay foreigners?—but oppose more production in the United States. Got it? The result is a "no-pain energy agenda that sounds appealing but has no basis in reality," writes Robert Bryce in "Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of 'Energy Independence.' " …
Members of Congress complain loudly about high oil profits ($40.6 billion for Exxon Mobil last year) but frustrate those companies' desire to use those profits to explore and produce in the United States. Getting access to oil elsewhere is increasingly difficult. Governments own three-quarters or more of proven reserves. Perversely, higher prices discourage other countries from approving new projects. Flush with oil revenue, countries have less need to expand production. Undersupply and high prices then feed on each other.
Whole remarkably sensible column here.