The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

America’s Energy, America’s Choice

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 10, 2014

America is experiencing an energy renaissance thanks to abundant domestic oil and natural gas, much of it developed from shale and other tight-rock formations through advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. As API President and CEO Jack Gerard outlined earlier this week, energy is at the heart of freedom and opportunity, and U.S. energy wealth could be the driver of a new era of American prosperity:

“Energy is fundamental to our society, and thanks to American innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, our nation stands among the world’s leaders in energy production and is poised to be THE leader if we get American energy policy right. The question before us today is whether we have the vision and wisdom to take full advantage of our vast energy resources. The energy policy choices we make today are among the most important and far reaching policy decisions we will make in the 21st century. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to reshape, realign and reorder the world’s energy market and improve domestic prosperity to an unprecedented degree. But only if we get our nation’s energy policy right today.”

Job growth, lifting our economy, revitalizing the manufacturing sector and others, strengthening our geopolitical position and making our country more secure – all hinge on choosing energy as a catalytic, national strategy. These are outlined in the new State of American Energy report that was unveiled this week.  Lots of choices are before us, and in this election year these choices can be underscored. Another of our new ads drives home this point:

The oil and natural gas industry already is fueling job creation and economic growth:

  • 9.8 million jobs supported, according to PwC
  • $1.2 trillion contributed to U.S. GDP, supporting roughly 8 percent of the national economy, according to PwC
  • $85 million a day in revenues to government
  • More than $1,200 per household in added disposable income, thanks to lower natural gas costs, according to IHS

The opportunity is there to do more, with increased domestic oil and natural gas development:

  • 1.4 million new jobs created by 2030, according to Wood Mackenzie
  • Of those jobs, more and more will be filled by women and minorities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The oil and natural gas industry is becoming a career choice for more women and minorities (women filled nearly one-third of the jobs added in the upstream oil and natural gas segment in the first quarter of 2013)
  • More than $800 billion in cumulative additional revenue to government by 2030, Wood Mackenzie estimates
  • Increased industrial output of 2.8 percent by 2015 and 3.9 percent by 2025 from lower natural gas prices, according to IHS

These are just some of the  benefits of increase oil and natural gas development. So how do we get there? As “America’s Energy, America’s Choice” notes, the answers are fairly straight-forward. First, let’s acknowledge that we’ve entered an era of energy abundance compared to the scarcity that much of our national policy was based on just a few short years ago. The report:

For decades, conventional wisdom held that the U.S. would be largely dependent on foreign sources of oil to satisfy its energy needs. Every president over the last 40 years has encouraged Americans to become less dependent on foreign oil through conservation and alternative fuels. But today, the U.S. has the potential to become energy self-sufficient in the not too distant future. This development, which would have been unimaginable even a few years ago, could transform future geopolitics with regard to energy as well as enhance America’s position in the world. … If America chooses to fully utilize its domestic oil and natural gas resources and supports energy infrastructure projects, not only does it have the potential to become more energy secure, but, together with oil from Canada, could meet 100 percent of its liquid fuel needs by 2024.

We’re seeing this transformation, powered by increased domestic energy output, in oil imports that have fallen from about 60 percent of what we used in 2005 to about 40 percent in 2012. Just a couple of years ago, U.S. oil production averaged 6.5 million barrels per day. This year it is expected to rise to 8.45 million barrels per day. Estimates of our supplies of natural gas likewise are rising.

Recognizing America’s energy wealth leads to choices to harness that energy, through increased access to domestic reserves, common-sense regulatory policies that provide for safe and responsible development without unnecessarily hindering it and an investment climate that encourages energy innovation and entrepreneurialism. It means opening for study and exploration the outer continental shelf, because 87 percent of these areas under federal control remain off limits. It means using the technology and know-how developed by the oil and natural gas industry to fully capitalize on offshore and onshore reserves. The report:

If America is to cross the threshold to this promising energy future, it will require making a deliberate choice to take full advantage of methods that enable development of our oil and natural gas resources, and to commit to ensuring we have the refining capability and infrastructure needed to take these products to market.

There are more choices, detailed in the report. We must reject tax increases on industry that could chill investment, development, energy output and job creation. We should avoid policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard that risk harming consumers and the economy.

Being able to make choices is a blessing in itself – way better than where we’ve come from, when it appeared America faced fewer energy options, limited possibilities, distant dreams. We can choose a better, safer future. It’s America’s choice.

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.