The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Needed: ‘Political Wisdom’ to Manage America’s Energy Wealth

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 16, 2013

America’s oil and natural gas industry is bullish on America, having delivered a direct stimulus to the U.S. economy in 2011 worth more than $545 billion in capital spending, wages and dividends, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. That’s $1.5 billion a day in economic lift from developing oil and natural gas. And industry is ready to do more.

Investing in America’s future is the oil and natural gas industry’s main focus, API President and CEO Jack Gerard told the United States Energy Association’s State of American Energy Industry Forum.

America certainly has the reserves to make it happen. The International Energy Agency says the U.S. could overtake Saudi Arabia in oil production by 2020, and our natural gas supplies are described as generational and game-changing.  We have the technology and the know-how, which are adapting and improving.

Less certain: Whether we have the policies and leadership to turn America’s energy potential into the fuels and products that support our modern economy and way of life. Gerard:

“The question we face in the future is not whether we have the energy we need to grow and prosper. The question is whether we have the political wisdom and foresight to manage this resource in a way that   generates the kinds of jobs, revenue and opportunity that has been the hallmark of our nation and our industry since the very beginning.”

Here’s political wisdom: To reckon America’s energy wealth and take actions to let it benefit this country’s citizens. A winning lottery ticket is only a ticket until it’s redeemed. As a country that’s where we stand now, in possession of ample supplies of oil and natural gas – reliable and flexible energy that can drive the economy of a country as large as ours.

Gerard identified some obstacles, including permitting policies on federal lands that seem to be aimed at restricting development of the public’s energy resources and the administration’s use of “elimination” powers to cancel leases already offered or to put off limits vast acreages that could be leased. Gerard:

“Just last month, a state-owned, Russian company began drilling in Cuban waters mere miles away from our maritime border. While we watch, international firms are operating rigs in Cuban-controlled waters near the American coast, looking for resources to meet rising demand.  But as we watch, American companies are prevented from using American technology and American equipment to produce American energy for American citizens in American waters.”

Gerard noted energy-access decisions that appear to be based on ideology and faulty reasoning:

“I think that drives home the fundamental energy, public policy question before us:  How do we meet our growing energy needs? Will we decide to encourage responsible development and innovation or cling to outdated assumptions, faulty perceptions and unrealistic expectations of emerging energy sources?”

These are some of the issues that policymakers must address for America’s oil and natural gas riches to make a difference in the lives of her citizens today and tomorrow – during a period when we know demand for energy will keep increasing the world over. Gerard:

“The American people, and more important our children and grandchildren, have an enormous stake in whether we get this right: whether we can combine vision with leadership, technology with determination to bring a brighter, surer energy future to generations to come.”


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.