Obama’s Failed Energy Policy Has Fueled Dismal Job Creation

In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama again gave lip service to a national energy policy.

And again, nothing has happened, or will happen.

From the very beginning of his administration, he has failed to grasp the realities of America’s 21st century energy requirements and their relationship to jobs and the economy.

Now rising oil prices (the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline has jumped 13.1 cents to $3.518 in the past month, according to auto club AAA) comes at a bad time – just when companies are starting to hire.

Manufacturers face lower profit margins as they pay more to get their products to market and face higher costs for plastics and other petroleum-based materials. And higher prices at the pump force consumers to cut spending on discretionary items like dining out, home improvements and family vacations, hurting those industries. Dwindling profits mean dwindling hiring opportunities.

For the oil industry, Obama offered new leases in the Gulf of Mexico and promised to open 75 percent of the country’s resources for drilling. This was exactly what he proposed in 2007, but not much has happened since.

Why is a sound energy policy so linked to jobs?

According to a study by Wood Mackenzie (an energy consulting firm), the development of new and existing resources could, by 2018, increase domestic oil and gas production by millions of barrels a day and support a million new jobs.

Another study, by IHS Global Insight, estimates that returning permitting approvals to their historic levels before the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico would generate 230,000 jobs in 2012. And these are mainly high paying, blue-collar jobs that would immediately make a huge difference for millions of American households.

House Republicans agree and have proposed an active jobs plan to significantly expand American energy production offshore, onshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. With bipartisan support, their plan would create more than 1 million American jobs, generate billions of dollars in revenue and reduce America’s reliance on increasingly unstable Middle Eastern oil.

It would make energy more affordable for our manufacturers and for our consumers. Energy prices heading downwards would help relieve anxiety and hopelessness over our economic future.

Let’s not forget Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have created 20,000 jobs during the pipeline’s initial construction phase and up to a half-million more over time. The Keystone XL would play a major part in full utilization of Canada’s oil sands that would be refined and distributed in the United States.

But Obama isn’t the only Democrat who doesn’t grasp the relationship between domestic oil production and jobs. New Jersey’s Senator Robert Menendez, who has submitted a new amendment in the Senate Finance Committee that would impose over $43 billion in new tax hikes on the oil and natural gas industry, is clearly out of step with even his own party. Such a policy would punish the very oil and natural gas industries that could create millions of employment opportunities. Is anyone awake in Washington?

According to a report in Forbes, oil and gas companies directly employ more than 2 million Americans, from blue-collar workers to well-trained scientists and engineers. In addition, the industry supports millions of manufacturing, construction, mining and other indirect jobs — about 9 million of them in all.

“To the extent the industry is allowed to drill here, it creates and keeps jobs here. If oil and gas companies were allowed to explore in more domestic areas currently off limits, it would create an estimated 1 million more jobs — and those jobs wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a dime. Indeed, those companies would be paying millions of dollars in taxes.”

The question then becomes: Why doesn’t Congress put more urgency behind an energy policy to create jobs? It looks like there is significant bi-partisan support for more domestic drilling. So what’s the hang up?

Congress is too busy fighting to get things done. For example, putting money behind infrastructure has merit to repair crumbling bridges and roads. But why spend billions of Federal dollars on “shovel ready” jobs when a stroke of the pen would put millions of Americans back to work on domestic energy programs? This work would be done by private energy companies without the Federal government having to spend its own money.

Oil is a precious commodity. But so are American jobs. There must be a way to put these on equal footing. It is this simple: by supporting domestic energy production, we support domestic job creation.

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