The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

El Dorado Job Killer

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted July 9, 2009

During the recent debate over the House's version of the cap-and-trade bill, both the proponents and the opponents pointed to the bill's potential impact on jobs. On the floor of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi implied that the bill would create millions of new "green" jobs, while the bill's opponents, including API, cited studies showing the Waxman-Markey bill would be a job killer.

Now we're seeing the first real evidence of the bill's likely impact on employment. As the Associated Press reported yesterday, the owner of a small refinery in El Dorado, Ark., believes the bill will put him out of business and force him to layoff his 600 full-time employees and another 600 contract workers who are doing construction at the plant.

Steve Cousins, Lion Oil Company vice president for refining, says the company would have to pay significantly more than it earns for carbon credits to continue operating. According to Cousins, privately owned Lion Oil has averaged $13 million in annual profits during the past 23 years. If the House's cap-and-trade bill is enacted, the company would have to spend $180 million a year for carbon credits. Obviously, this is a losing proposition for Lion Oil.

The bill also would hurt the El Dorado community and many others like it. El Dorado has lost more than 1,500 jobs already due to the closure of a chicken processing operation. Mayor Mike Dumas says closing the refinery would be a bigger blow because oil industry jobs pay more. Congressman Mike Ross (D-Ark.), who represents the state's 4th District, including El Dorado, says the impact of the bill could be "devastating."

"We must be careful about in passing legislation that would close our local factories and ship our jobs and carbon dioxide emissions overseas," said Rep. Ross after voting against the bill.

The harmful effects of this bill go far beyond El Dorado. If refineries are unable to remain in business in the United States, thousands of well-paying refining jobs would be shipped overseas--quite possibly to countries that have less stringent environmental requirements--and the nation would become more dependent on refined products from abroad. That, in turn, would have a negative impact on U.S. economic growth and do very little, if anything, to improve the global environment.

Visit our Action Center to encourage your elected official to vote against the House version of the climate change bill.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.