Posted August 28, 2014
Despite the hyper-partisanship currently flourishing in Washington, there is a potential tie that binds: American energy.
Thanks to advanced technologies, entrepreneurial risk-taking and abundant oil and natural gas reserves, U.S. energy is on the rise: We’re the world’s No. 1 producer of natural gas and likely to be No. 1 in crude oil production next year, according to the International Energy Agency. Our energy revolution is creating jobs, boosting the economy and increasing America’s energy security and influence in the world. It’s also a bridge to bipartisanship.
API Executive Vice President Louis Finkel touched on these themes in a recent op-ed for the Reno Gazette-Journal and in a presentation before the Nevada state convention of the AFL-CIO. Finkel writes:
Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much these days, but the job-creating power of the American energy revolution is emerging as a foundation for rare common ground across the country. Major energy initiatives like the Keystone XL pipeline and liquefied natural gas exports attract bipartisan support, and interest groups traditionally arrayed against each other frequently unite to advocate for energy policies in the name of jobs and economic growth.
Energy is a natural galvanizing point – supporting 9.8 million jobs, serving as an economic dynamo in Texas, North Dakota and other states and facilitating a renaissance in American manufacturing through affordable energy and feedstocks. Finkel to the AFL-CIO:
“As our economy, which was very fragile … continues to recover, the oil and gas industry is being a huge driver in our economic growth and recovery. … I started my life in public policy in the early 90s, and the conversation then was our dependence on foreign oil. … Just think about the paradigm shift since the 1970s …”
Yet, the U.S. energy revolution faces challenges. Increased access to oil and natural gas reserves, onshore and offshore, is critically important. Needed is a common-sense approach to regulation that fosters clarity, fairness and predictability – all key to investments in exploration, development and production, as well as the modern infrastructure to deliver energy across the country. Visionary, bipartisan leadership is required to fully harness America’s energy wealth. Finkel writes:
For all the public and political support for energy and the economic benefits it promises, there are still bureaucratic hurdles. Although production is soaring on private land, production on federal land was down 28 percent for natural gas and 6 percent for oil between 2009 and 2013, according to the Congressional Research Service. Then there’s Keystone XL. Despite five positive State Department assessments over the course of almost six years of study, united backing from both labor and business constituencies, overwhelming public support from voters of all political stripes and bipartisan approval in Congress, the shovel-ready Keystone XL pipeline — with its 42,000 jobs — is still on hold.
Finkel told the union members that “reasonable polices that allow for reasonable growth in the energy space” is essential to continue the U.S. energy revolution. Finkel:
“We are producing here at home. It’s creating stability in the marketplace, and it’s creating jobs. In total, the oil and gas industry supports 9.8 million jobs, and with the right complement of energy policies … we can add more jobs. We think we can add about another million jobs. … By 2030, if we do it right, we can add up to 1.4 million jobs.”
If we do it right. There’s a proved basis for bipartisan cooperation to ensure the right policy path – job creation, economic stimulus and expanding production that’s opening opportunities, through energy exports, for a positive, muscular U.S. foreign policy. Finkel writes:
We have the natural resources and technological know-how to extend the benefits of the American energy revival to more states and communities. But we need the right policy choices. With 89 percent of American voters saying more oil and natural gas here at home is a priority, policymakers in Washington are beginning to see that energy is not a Republican or a Democrat issue. It’s about jobs, energy security and national security.
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.