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With Oil prices briefly breaching $100/barrel, some are dusting off the tired playbook of “drill baby drill” and calling for an expansion of domestic oil and gas drilling – ignoring the point that opening up “access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions [currently off-limits] would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.” The Energy Information Administration estimates that if the ban on drilling remains in place, that “the average U.S. price of motor gasoline price is 3 cents per gallon higher” than if we open these areas to drilling. That’s because the US isn’t Saudi Arabia: we sit on only 1.6% of the world’s oil reserves, while the Saudis have 20%. Dumping our little pond of oil into the giant sea of global reserves can’t make a significant dent on our imports or impact prices.

Some argue that recent unrest in Egypt & Libya present legitimate threats to supply and therefore justify the oil price run-up. While Libya is an oil exporter, the Saudis have already lined up replacement exports and it doesn’t appear that the protests engulfing the region are going to hit Saudi Arabia anytime soon.

What will make a significant dent in the short term is clamping down on the excessive speculation that’s driving the higher prices. To be sure, speculation has a necessary role, but it’s one thing for speculators to operate on the margins, and it’s quite another for them to dominate and drive the market. Congress understood this when they passed the Dodd-Frank Act last year, which, among other things, ordered the CFTC to restore transparency to these energy trading markets. But under intense industry lobbying, the CFTC is punting on some of the more critical rules, including establishing firm position limits.

So here’s what Congress can do right away to address the problem:

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claybrook redford

What a good time it was! About 300 Public Citizen supporters packed the Sewall-Belmont House on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to honor our former president and consumer advocate extraordinaire, Joan Claybrook.

Old friends of Public Citizen and Washington, D.C.’s progressive community came out to celebrate Joan’s 27 years of tireless leadership and her enduring legacy. Prior to the event, our headquarters building near Dupont Circle was named in her honor, Public Citizen’s Joan Claybrook Building.

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It’s not often this happens, which is why we think it’s important enough to tell you about.

But even one of the scientists who holds a patent on a new heart drug has concerns about its safety and effectiveness. He has joined us in writing a letter to the FDA urging the agency to stop its review of the drug, called prasugrel.

gummy teethHere in Public Citizen’s press office, we’re always keeping an eye out for Public Citizen’s appearance in the media. Here are some recent highlights:

In “K Street, watchdogs praise new lobbying rules” in TheHill.com, David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, weighs in on a new White House policy on lobbying and economic stimulus spending.

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