"...And I Approve This Message" MONEY fact-checks the candidates Who's Better for Gas Prices? Bush, slightly. But only because caribou don't vote
By Jon Birger

(MONEY Magazine) – BUSH'S CLAIM: Gas prices wouldn't be so high today had Clinton approved oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in 1995. Says Bush: "An additional million barrels would have been coming out [by now], which would obviously have a positive impact for today's consumers."

THE REALITY: At peak production, the arctic refuge might produce a million barrels of crude daily--about 1% of global output. The American Petroleum Institute says a 1% increase in supply would bring a 10% drop in prices. Small changes in oil supply can have an outsize impact on gas prices, but new oil coming on line would eventually spur demand from industry, offsetting the effects of greater supply. That's why the University of California Energy Institute's Severin Borenstein says tapping the Alaskan arctic would ultimately lower prices by just 2% or so.

KERRY'S CLAIM: Prices would fall without ANWR drilling if the Bush team would simply stop filling the government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)--although Kerry opposes releasing any oil reserves. "We should divert oil [from SPR] and bring it to the market to bring down prices," he says.

THE REALITY: If Kerry disputes that a million barrels a day pumped out of Alaska's wilderness would provide "meaningful protection from high oil and gasoline prices," it's disingenuous to then claim that diverting 100,000 barrels--SPR's daily purchases--would lower gas prices. "It would have no impact," says energy banker (and Bush supporter) Matthew Simmons. Borenstein agrees but believes there's a different reason to delay SPR purchases: "The government has an unfortunate history of buying high." --JON BIRGER