The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Americans' Concerns, Energy's Solutions

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 22, 2013

National Journal has a couple of interesting offerings this week – an article exploring why Americans don’t seem to care what scientists think about climate, and its Energy Experts Blog question of the week asking what Americans think about energy and climate policy. (API President and CEO Jack Gerard’s response, here.)

reduced-pew-prioritiesA simple observation is that while Americans do think about climate and the role policy could play in affecting climate, they think about other things more.

Pew Research Center’s most recent survey gauging of Americans’ top policy priorities (left) found that strengthening the economy, improving the U.S. job situation and reducing the federal budget deficit ranked one, two and three. Each was deemed a top priority for the president and Congress by more than 70 percent of those surveyed. Building a stronger economy was called a top priority by 86 percent. As for climate, it was No. 21, considered a top policy priority by 28 percent. NJ’s Amy Harder writes:

The Pew Research Center finds that more people acknowledge climate change is real, but it regularly ranks at the bottom of people's priority lists. The center also finds that the public generally supports more production of all kinds of energy, including fossil fuels and renewables.

Put that last part together with Pew’s policy priority findings, and you’ve got important guidance for policymakers: Greater U.S. energy production can be a leading answer to concerns about the economy, jobs and red ink. Some points arguing for a pro-energy development path:

  • PwC’s recent report showing that the U.S. oil and natural gas industry supports 9.8 million jobs across all 50 states in 2011 (most recent data year available). Every direct oil and natural gas job supports about 2.8 jobs elsewhere in the economy.

  • Industry’s contribution to U.S. GDP was $1.2 trillion or 8 percent of the U.S. total, PwC found.

  • Oil and natural gas jobs were created at a rate 40 times faster than the overall private sector between 2007 and 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

  • With the right policies in place the industry could create more than 1 million new jobs by 2020, according to Wood Mackenzie, generating cumulative new revenue for government of $127 billion.

America’s oil and natural gas industry is a job creator and economy lifter. The U.S. energy revolution, thanks in large part to the boom in unconventional oil and natural gas production from hydraulic fracturing, is benefiting individuals, communities, states and regions. Thanks to abundant, affordable natural gas, other industrial sectors like manufacturing and chemicals are resurgent. This forward economic momentum can continue with increased access to domestic reserves, a common-sense approach to regulation and policies that foster energy investment.

Now, let’s circle back to National Journal’s climate offerings. The good news accompanying increased oil and natural gas development is that there have been climate benefits, too. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are at a 20-year low, thanks to increased use of natural gas. Meanwhile, industry is one of the biggest investors in renewables and low- and zero-emission technologies. API’s Gerard:

While polling indicates that energy development policies generally attract more public support than climate initiatives, the right approach can achieve both goals. A true all-of-the-above energy policy that prioritizes both renewables and responsible development of domestic oil and natural gas resources has the endorsement of the Obama administration, the support of the oil and gas industry, the approval of the American people – and a proven track record in lowering emissions while increasing energy security.

Americans remain most concerned about the economy and jobs, because they’re directly affected by them. With the right policies – a true all-of-the-above energy strategy – we can develop American oil and natural gas reserves to address those concerns while making our country more energy secure. 


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.