The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy Tomorrow Radio: Episode 100 - Oil and Natural Gas: A Key to Economic Recovery

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted February 9, 2010

In today's episode, which was recorded a few days ago, I speak with API President and CEO Jack Gerard about the state of American energy and how increased domestic oil and natural gas production can bring jobs, revenues and greater energy security to the American economy.

Use the audio player below to listen to information about the article and follow along with the show notes. I hope you find the podcast informative.

Show Notes:

00:16 For the past several months, the U.S. economy has experienced the worst recession since the 1930s. Although many economists say a recovery is underway, unemployment is in the double-digits and not expected to improve in the short-term, despite the government's stimulus spending. Jack Gerard, API's president and CEO, believes the government could reduce unemployment and give a much-needed boost to the economy by developing a sensible energy policy.

01:03 Unfortunately, too often in Washington, the rhetoric doesn't match the reality. Few truly stop to think how absolutely essential oil and natural gas are to our lives, prosperity, security and our future. Oil and natural gas are the foundation of our energy-dependent economy and have significant impact on how we live and work, heat and cool our homes, and provide the needed materials that form the base of our industrial and manufacturing sector. Today, oil and natural gas supply 63 percent of the nation's energy and represent more than $1 trillion of U.S. economic activity, accounting for some 7.5 percent of U.S. GDP. It's important to note that the United States is going to need more oil and natural gas in the future. The Department of Energy (DOE) tells us that by the year 2030, over 50 percent of all the energy consumed in this country will still be oil and natural gas. When we look at simple sloganeering that takes place in political circles, it oft times doesn't match the reality of what is going to be needed to provide for American citizens, support our economy and allow us, at this difficult time, to generate new jobs and restore our economy to full health.

02:35 Today, the industry directly supports 9.2 million people in the United States. That is huge. We are a major job creator. Many may not realize, but between 2004 and 2007, the oil and gas industry generated another two million jobs--that's the sort of job creation we would all like to see today. And with the right energy policies in place, we believe we can create more jobs--well-paying jobs--that would be very desirous to have.

03:16 Another key point that many folks aren't aware of is from 2000 and 2008, the oil and natural gas industry invested more than $58 billion in creating new green technologies, or low carbon emitting technologies. They run the gamut from different forms of natural gas use, to battery power, to solar, wind and a variety of others. We are major leaders in all forms of energy, just not oil and natural gas. We are a big economic engine; we believe with the right policies in place, we can do even more.

04:13 We are the leader in green jobs. The $58 billion in new investments that I mentioned is more than the government spent during that period and more than all the other industries spent combined during that period. We are clearly at the front end of advancing these new technologies--batteries, biofuels and other forms of alternatives; ways to be more efficient and decrease energy use; recycling; carbon capture and storage; and the list goes on. Using data from other economists, it is suggested that the oil and natural gas industry has already created, with those investments I mentioned, about 1.2 million new green jobs. We think there is potential to create many more as the economy continues to evolve.

05:17 First, one thing we do know: we are not running out of oil or natural gas. Through recent technology and innovation, we continue to find new supplies. We are far more efficient and productive at developing the fields that we have already found. Our natural gas reserve in the United States increased by more than one-third just between 2006 and 2008. There is vast opportunity in this country to provide more oil and natural gas and to develop these new resources.

05:54 Natural gas is one of our most flexible and clean-burning energy sources and can play a very important role in the reduction of greenhouse gases. We have found vast natural gas reserves across the entire United States. Through new technologies that have been developed, we are now able to produce those natural gas resources. So when we think of our challenge to limit our carbon emissions, natural gas can play a critical role.

07:03 As previously mentioned, the industry supports more than 9.2 million jobs. We believe that there is the potential to create thousands more jobs, particularly during this tough economic time. A recent analysis by ICF International, a well-regarded consulting group, concluded that if oil and natural gas resources were made available for development, they could generate hundreds of thousands of jobs, and potentially generate $1.7 trillion in government revenue. At a time when states are suffering, governors are trying to balance budgets and localities are trying to figure out how to pay for their police force, now is a great opportunity to provide the energy we need, create more new American jobs, and at the same time, fill the government coffers so we can provide the services that we have all become accustomed to.

08:17 The oil and natural gas industry needs no stimulus; we need no earmarks. We are not asking anything from the government, but one simple proposition--opportunity. Today, and for many years, oil and natural gas resources in the United States have been off limits. Over a year ago, the Congress finally lifted the moratorium that put off limits over 80 percent of all the oil and natural gas resources in the United States. Unfortunately, the Department of the Interior (DOI) has to approve the expanded leasing of those lands. And for the first year in office, they have not done that. We run the risk that we're not going to have enough lands to develop and to find these resources going forward. We believe it's important to the future of this country, during these tough economic times, to develop these resources and find the jobs and produce the energy the American public wants. Again, all we need is an opportunity. We're not asking for a handout or anything from taxpayers--just give us the opportunity to go look, to go find and then to develop these resources for the benefit of all Americans.

09:58 This past year, they have leased the lowest level on record in terms of public lands made available for oil and natural gas. The amount of revenue coming to the government has dropped 90 percent because of the failure to lease those new lands. We're trying hard to work with the DOI; we've extended our hand a number of times and hope that at some point they will embrace that and work with us as partners. We believe the technology development, ingenuity and investment potential coming from the oil and natural gas industry could be a major economic stimulus without any need to run up deficits or to add to the national debt.

11:00 For many years, energy politics have become partisan. Energy should not be a partisan issue; this is not about Republicans, Democrats or Independents; it's about the needs of the American public, the need for robust job creation and the opportunity to generate revenue through economic activity without finding the need to tax our citizens. We believe we have the opportunity today to be a huge job creator. We look forward to that and hope that this administration would reach out, take our hand and work with us to provide what the public needs: more affordable, reliable energy.

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.