The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The President’s Next Move

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 8, 2012

A big winner in the recent election: Energy. Both presidential candidates voiced supported for domestic oil and natural gas development, and President Obama’s re-election was based, in part, on his commitment to American oil and gas. That commitment is in step with a strong majority of Americans, according to a new poll conducted right after Tuesday’s vote:

  • Access: 73 percent of those surveyed support increased access to domestic oil and natural gas resources. Opposed: 15 percent.
  • Offshore energy: 69 percent support changing federal policies that currently keep more than 85 percent of America’s offshore areas off limits to oil and gas development. Opposed: 23 percent.
  • Keystone XL pipeline: 75 percent support construction of the pipeline to bring more Canadian oil to the U.S. Opposed 17 percent.
  • U.S. jobs: 91 percent agree that increased access to domestic oil and natural gas could lead to more American jobs. Disagree: 7 percent.
  • Energy security:  94 percent say producing more oil and natural gas here at home is important to America’s energy security – including 74 percent who say it’s very important. Not important: 5 percent.

The same survey found Americans believe that increased access to more U.S. oil and natural gas could help lower energy costs for consumers (86 percent), and that increasing energy taxes, as has been proposed for oil and natural gas companies, could drive up energy costs for consumers (68 percent).

Let’s cut right to the key post-election energy question: Will President Obama’s actions match his words – his commitment to the American people – on safely and responsibly developing American oil and natural gas, to secure our energy future? His words from the debates:

Oct. 3: “On energy, Governor Romney and I, we both agree that we've got to boost American energy production.”

Oct. 16: “We've got to control our own energy.  …  So here's what I've done since I've been president. We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years. Natural gas production is the highest it's been in decades. … We still continue to open up new areas for drilling. We continue to make it a priority for us to go after natural gas. We've got potentially 600,000 jobs and 100 years’ worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas.”

Oct. 22: “(We’re) doing everything we can to control our own energy. We've cut our oil imports to the lowest level in two decades because we've developed oil and natural gas. But we also have to develop clean energy technologies that will allow us to cut our exports in half by 2020. That's the kind of leadership that we need to show.”

We agree, Mr. President. Oil and natural gas are fundamental to controlling our energy future. More importantly, the vast majority of Americans agree. This approach includes wind, solar, biofuels and other technologies, but it starts with American oil and natural gas, which supply more than 60 percent of the energy we use today and which will supply more than 55 percent of the energy we use in 2035 – even with the valuable contributions of those other energy sources. API President and CEO Jack Gerard, during a conference call with reporters:

“We look forward to working with the president and the new Congress to address the number one priority of voters: creating jobs and growing the economy.  … Americans deserve an energy policy that reflects their views and that will build a stronger, more prosperous, more secure future.  Our elected leaders now have an opportunity to make that happen. … More domestic development can help put millions of Americans to work, enhance American competitiveness, deliver billions more in revenue to our government, and reduce our dependence on imported energy. … The president has promised America’s voters energy development and jobs.  That includes development of more of our nation’s oil and natural gas, which is essential to meeting our future energy needs.” 

Three measures for determining whether President Obama is making good on his energy commitment:

Keystone XL pipeline – In late 2011, when the president deferred a decision on the project, the clear indication was that the administration would consider it again in early 2013. We’re nearly there. The state of Nebraska is almost finished with its process to adjust the pipeline’s route around environmentally sensitive areas. Once completed, the president should follow with prompt approval of the full pipeline, to immediately create thousands of jobs and lock in a critical piece of energy infrastructure. The Keystone XL “will be one of the early questions for the president to see if his actions match his words,” Gerard said. “The next move is up to the president.”

Regulation – Currently, more than 10 federal agencies are reviewing or considering restrictions or new regulations on hydraulic fracturing – the shale energy game-changer the president correctly noted in the second debate. Unnecessary federal restrictions and duplication of effective state oversight, which would discourage natural gas and oil development via fracking, would work against the president’s domestic energy commitment. “You can’t be for oil and natural gas development in the United States and be opposed to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing,” Gerard said. To make good on his commitment the president should rein in those agencies.

Taxes – If President Obama means what he has said about domestic oil and natural gas production, he’ll shelve past proposals to target only this industry for higher taxes. America’s oil and natural gas companies welcome discussion of broad, fair and balanced tax reform that treats all industries the same. “But we will strongly oppose measures that single out the oil and natural gas industry,” Gerard said. “It’s poor tax policy, and it’s inconsistent with the (goal) of producing more oil and natural gas.”

The choice, as Wood Mackenzie laid out in its 2011 study, is between more domestic oil and natural gas production – creating more U.S. jobs and generating more revenue for governments – and punitive tax hikes on the job creators. That’s akin to killing the goose that’s laying golden eggs. Gerard:

“The important thing to recognize is where the American people are, which is overwhelming support for oil and natural gas development. This cuts across all demographics. … There is broad, vast support for energy.”

Again, the next move is up to the president.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.