The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Chart Reading

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 13, 2011

In a recent commentary for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, William Browning goes after the oil and natural gas industry's ability to create jobs - arguing that the energy sector wouldn't help the economy right away:

"Drilling does indeed equal more jobs, according to the American Petroleum Institute. A recent study states a shift in U.S. energy policy could mean 1.4 million more jobs and $800 billion in more revenue for Congress. Unfortunately, the jobs won't happen for seven years."

Two points: First, thanks for the link, but the drilling = more jobs calculation isn't API's, it's the work of the Wood Mackenzie energy research and consulting firm in Scotland - which compared the results of a pro-energy development approach (jobs, tax revenues, energy) to existing policy.

Second, really?!!!!

Wood Mackenzie says a pro-development strategy would create 1 million additional jobs by 2018 and 1.4 million by 2030. But the job creation would start right away. Look at the chart on Page 28 (fast becoming one of my favorites):

jobs_impact.jpgLooks like about 190,000 additional jobs in 2012, growing to what - 600,000 in 2015? And then reaching 1 million in 2018 and 1.4 million 2030. According to Wood Mackenzie, that's jobs in addition to what would be created if energy policies stayed the same.

Unfortunately, Browning either didn't read the report or didn't understand the chart. And he lapses into an argument used by the anti-development side to oppose new oil and natural gas exploration: If the energy isn't available right away, why bother looking for it? Except that in this case, job creation would start right away. For example, backers of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring Canadian oil sands crude to U.S. refiners, say approval of the project would create 10,000 U.S. jobs immediately and more over the pipeline's construction. According to one study, the Keystone XL would generate 85,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2020.

The oil and natural gas industry isn't opposed to renewable energy, which Browning favors. The industry invested more than $58 billion in low- and no-carbon technologies from 2000 to 2008, more than either the government or the rest of the private sector combined. The fact is America needs all energy sources. And increasing domestic oil production - the obvious added benefit of a pro-development policy approach - isn't displacing green jobs. It's displacing imports.

And America needs the jobs. The oil and natural gas industry can create them. Starting right away. You can look it up.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.