The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

More of Our Own Energy

Jack Gerard

Jack Gerard
Posted March 3, 2011

The American oil and natural gas industry is one of the few sectors that have remained healthy throughout most of the recent recession. We can help create the jobs Americans need and supply domestically the energy Americans use -- all while helping address federal deficits. In short, we can help policy makers achieve their stated goals and objectives. But the only way we can do this is if our government sets aside antiquated assumptions and disproven myths. And if they are open to the reality that America's oil and natural gas companies can be a significant part of the answer.

Instead, we are seeing policy decisions that directly contradict the calls for the business community to invest in America. Instead of recognizing how our industry has and can continue to contribute to meet our nation's fiscal and economic goals, the President - in his State of the Union address, and in his 2012 budget proposal - called for higher taxes on this industry to pay for new federal spending programs. Unfortunately, some in Congress are echoing that call.
For those who say claim that instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's...we have some news, there is nothing "yesterday" about oil and natural gas.

They are what fuel America's economy - today.

They keep our homes comfortable, allow us to travel and transport our goods - today.
They help us manufacture the goods that make Americans' lives better and more productive, from medicines to computers today.
The companies that produce this energy are the source of most of the investment in zero- or low-emissions technologies - today.
And America's oil and natural gas companies are poised to continuing doing all that - and more - tomorrow.
These companies receive no direct government payments for their operations, and their business tax deductions are comparable to or lower than those for other industries. The amount of tax deductions available to oil and natural gas companies pales in comparison to the billions of dollars the industry pours into the federal and state treasury through royalties, rents, bonus bids, and taxes - nearly $100 million a day.
As to the president's point that oil companies are doing "just fine," there is no denying that these are among the nation's healthiest companies. Their financial health reflects sound management and wise investments, not government assistance. They do big things - and they do them well.
And when our industry does well, so do its beneficiaries who are the tens of millions of Americans who have a 401k or pension plan, or otherwise invest in America's corporations. Less than 2 percent of ownership is held by corporate management -- our companies' success should be celebrated, not decried.
Americans are best served if we set aside the finger pointing and put downs. Despite what some may have us believe, we need every source of energy for our future in order to maintain our way of life. That includes wind, solar, biofuels, and oil and natural gas, which the government estimates will provide over 50 percent of our energy needs for the next several decades.
Rather than calls for higher energy taxes, our political leaders should recognize the potential for this industry to provide greater energy security, drive our economic recovery, create jobs, and lower the federal deficit. Our industry remains committed to working with government to meet our current and future challenges, but we need Congress and the administration on board.
Let's stop talking and let's get back to work.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jack N. Gerard is president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. He also has served as the president and CEO of trade associations representing the chemical and mining industries. Jack understands how Washington works. He spent several years working in the U.S. Senate and House, and co-founded a Washington-based government relations consulting firm. A native of Idaho, Jack also is very active in the Boy Scouts of America, a university graduate program on politics, and his church’s leadership. He and his wife are the proud parents of eight children, including twin boys adopted from Guatemala.