It's hard to say just how much oil is there, but estimates compiled by CNNMoney.com from various government agencies indicate crude oil production could be increased between 1 and 3 million barrels per day. The U.S. currently produces about 5 million barrels of crude a day, while worldwide production stands at around 73 million barrels.
Opening these areas to drilling would cause oil prices to fall immediately, proponents say, as oil traders would fret less about future production. They also say it would lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Critics -- along with the government's Energy Information Administration -- say any price drop would take years to materialize and be minimal at best -- maybe 2 or 3 cents off a gallon of gas.
Moreover, they say focusing on more oil drilling misses the point: The country should be figuring out a way to use less oil, not drill more, and that it's counterproductive when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.