The Obama Administration is currently pursuing a misguided and dangerous war on the oil and natural gas industry, blaming it for not doing enough to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Not only does this belligerent policy fail to improve the situation it was designed to address, it will also place U.S. energy security at much greater risk in the long run.
The Administration has chosen to pursue a two-pronged attack of (1) imposing billions of dollars in additional taxes on oil and natural gas companies and (2) denying companies access to untapped domestic resources, both on-land and offshore. Its goal is to cut fossil-fuel emissions blamed for global warming in half by 2050.
But the irony is that the U.S. oil and natural gas industry has been playing a crucial role in the green revolution. For the past decade, the industry has been investing billions of dollars developing new advanced energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Instead of supporting a fraudulent cap-and-trade system that the Administration and its allies in Congress advocate, oil companies are investing in research and development and, in some cases, marketing new energy alternatives, including solar, geothermal, biofuels, fuel cells, hydrogen power, advanced batteries and wind energy. Between 2000 and 2008, the oil and gas industry invested more than $58 billion in these and other carbon-mitigation technologies, which was more than either the Government or the rest of private industry combined spent.
During this period the oil and gas industry created about one million jobs related to green technology just from its low-carbon investments.
Worth noting is that these companies have greatly increased the production of clean-burning natural gas, using new techniques to extract shale gas, while developing technology to capture and store carbon emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels deep underground.
Many of these are state-of-the-art projects capable of satisfying growing energy demand without accelerating the damage being done to the climate. They are making greater use of technologies such as combined heat and power – known as cogeneration – to improve energy efficiency at refineries. All of this is essential, considering that the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that energy demand will increase by 11 percent by 2030, with oil and natural gas supplying more than 50 percent of our energy.
Notwithstanding opposition from the Obama Administration, developing oil and natural gas resources will be an important bridge to America’s energy future. It’s estimated that domestic shale-gas resources alone are enough to meet the need for natural gas for the next 100 years. And shale gas is being developed in an environmentally safe manner.
The shame of it is that increasing access to domestic sources of oil and natural gas would create tens of thousands of jobs and generate revenue for governments at all levels, according to a recently-published study prepared for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Yet the Administration appears blind to the important role that oil and natural gas play as the foundation of our energy-based economy. To stifle the growth of this industry in the midst of a record-setting deficit and high unemployment is absurd. And it’s outrageous, given that America depends on foreign countries for 70 percent of the oil it needs.
Instead of penalizing the industry, the Administration should make it easier for oil and gas companies to hire workers and increase domestic production. It should keep in mind that independent producers – including many that are small-business owners – now produce 68 percent of U.S. oil and 82 percent of natural gas. These are the companies that represent the backbone of energy development in the United States.
John J. Interval, P.G., C.P.G.
Professional Petroleum Geologist