The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy Policy's Impact on U.S. Consumers

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted December 30, 2010

As the nation approaches the New Year, reporters around the country are writing about the energy outlook for 2011. There are quotes from analysts predicting oil and gasoline prices; opinion leaders discussing energy policies likely to be considered by the 112th Congress; and professors explaining the relative merits of fossil fuels and alternatives.

There also are some very knowledgeable and thoughtful bloggers who have done a significant amount of research into energy issues and have provided their insights online and in print. Here are some bloggers' comments about U.S. energy policy that recently caught my eye. Read them carefully and you'll see they share a common theme:

Byron King, who wrote extensively about the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, recently turned his attention toward the government's actions in response to the Gulf oil spill:

"For as much as no nation wants an offshore blowout, most nations in the world DO want to pursue energy production. They need the oil...Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Department of Interior (DOI) is pretty much squashing offshore development in the name of safety...Since June, the DOI has approved less than one new offshore drilling permit per week--and only in shallow waters, less than 500 feet depth...This is going to get worse before it gets better."

In an op-ed in The Washington Times, Jack Rafuse argued that raising energy taxes is the wrong approach to economic growth. He says that repealing long-standing tax incentives to promote energy production would be counterproductive:

"No matter who holds House or Senate committee chairmanships, anti-business and anti-oil officials will continue to urge that these [tax] 'loopholes' be closed, even though repeal would make U.S. companies less competitive, increase the costs of U.S. oil and gas production and hurt the economy."

Gail Tverberg asked why bashing the oil industry has become so popular:

"I don't think any industry is perfect, but I also have a hard time seeing that any industry should be singled out for uniquely harsh treatment...Government oversight of the oil industry (and probably a lot of other industries) has not been very good...halting drilling while all of this is sorted out doesn't really help the result."

What do these bloggers have in common? Each questions the wisdom of singling out the oil and natural gas industry for punitive governmental actions. They recognize that policies aimed at hurting the oil and natural gas industry can have a damaging impact on the economy and U.S. consumers.

Every credible forecast of future energy demand shows that American consumers will need more oil and natural gas for decades to come. Rather than discourage domestic production, this nation's energy policy should encourage the development of U.S. oil and natural gas. By doing so, it can help to create jobs, generate billions in government revenues, reduce the federal trade deficit and add to the nation's future energy supplies. Demonizing the industry won't fill anyone's tank.