You may have already seen this story via Kevin Drum or AMERICAblog:
The United States offers some of the most lucrative incentives in the world to companies that drill for oil in publicly owned coastal waters, but a newly released study suggests that the government is getting very little for its money.
The study, which the Interior Department refused to release for more than a year, estimates that current inducements could allow drilling companies in the Gulf of Mexico to escape tens of billions of dollars in royalties that they would otherwise pay the government for oil and gas produced in areas that belong to American taxpayers.
But the study predicts that the inducements would cause only a tiny increase in production even if they were offered without some of the limitations now in place...
How bad is this? The report says that current incentives will cost the government $48 billion over a 40-year period. And how much extra oil do we get for that?
Total oil production from 2003 to 2042 would be about 300 million barrels more, or less than 1 percent, than it would have been anyway.
The U.S. uses (or at least it did in 2005) 20.8 million barrels of oil per day.
That means this $48 billion giveaway, over 40 years, gets us an additional 14-day supply of oil.