North America’s Energy Abundance Offers a Real Jobs Plan

August 8, 2013

If the president is indeed committed to reducing unemployment, he should swiftly pivot toward American energy production. Data from the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrate that the U.S. oil and gas industry continues to be a bright spot in America’s economy. The Energy Information Administration reported today, “From the start of 2007 through the end of 2012, total U.S. private sector employment increased by more than one million jobs, about one percent. Over the same period, the oil and natural gas industry increased by more than 162,000 jobs, a 40 percent increase.”

A recent study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute found the oil and gas industry supported a total of 9.8 million American jobs in 2011, including over 600,000 jobs created in just two years. While the country still struggles with high unemployment, energy producing states like North Dakota and Texas are experiencing job growth.

From this data, it’s clear where the jobs are. Yet, the president continues to dismiss the job-creating power of North America’s energy abundance. In fact, the president went so far as to attack the private-sector jobs that would be supported by the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction. As the Houston Chronicle editorialized today, “This is one specific scenario where the president can have a direct influence on the job market, but instead he keeps moving the goalposts.”

American energy has the power to drive our economic recovery, but only if the right policies are in place. Red tape continues to block important energy production opportunities and energy producers are facing the threat of costly new regulations that could impede growth and job creation. The Congressional Research Service found that all of the increases in domestic oil production from 2007 to 2012 took place on non-federal lands where the federal government plays little or no role, but U.S. oil production fell by almost seven percent on federal lands where approval from the administration is needed.

To get America working again, we need to harness our full energy potential. Commonsense policies like opening access to more federal lands for production, reducing unnecessary and burdensome regulations, and modernizing the process for permit approvals could have a real impact on our nation’s unemployment.