Energy Industry Key for Workforce and Education
The domestic oil and natural gas industry provides the United States and our allies with essential American energy to fuel everyday needs. But as EID has covered in the past, the industry provides more than just clean and reliable energy – it also propels states’ economies forward by funding services like education, transportation, and workforce development, directly improving communities and contributing to the next generation of workers.
Energy Industry Directly Impacts Education, Workforce
America’s oil and natural gas industry has a long history in investing back into the communities it serves, specifically when it comes to education and a focus on STEM. For example, Mobile Oilfield Learning Units, sponsored by Coterra Energy, travel to schools and communities to teach students about science, technology, and careers related to the oil and natural gas industry through hands-on, educational activities in STEM, helping to grow the next generation of workers.
“Having the opportunity to offer a hands-on learning experience to our students about the heart of the industry that has built our community is incredibly exciting,” stated Lori Wesley, Executive Director of Museum of the Southwest, a partner in these mobile units, in a press release.
Similarly, in Ohio, the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) provides STEM and geology-focused workshops for educators to equip them with knowledge about the natural gas and oil industry to pass along to students in their classroom. OOGEEP also recently announced its 2023 scholarship program for students wishing to pursue careers in the natural gas and oil industry. Funded by revenue from Ohio’s energy industry, OOGEEP has awarded nearly 600 scholarships to students pursuing careers in the industry since 2007. These past winners have represented 74 different colleges, universities, technical or trade schools, and include 61 different majors, degrees, or certificate programs – a key success story representing the collaboration between industry and workforce development.
“Every year we are incredibly grateful to be able to assist young Ohioans in pursuing good paying careers in the natural gas and oil industry,” said Shawn Toy, Education and Workforce Development Manager, Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program.
These jobs, and the natural gas and oil industry as a whole, continue to be an economic lifeblood for Ohio. According to a recent report released by JobsOhio and Cleveland State University, the natural gas and oil industry has invested nearly $100 billion into the Buckeye State since the beginning of the Shale revolution.
In addition to funding student scholarships, these investments directly help improve roads, schools, and other vital infrastructure and resources, a trend also seen in other major energy states.
According to the Texas Oil and Gas Association’s 2022 Energy & Economic Impact Report:
“The Texas oil and natural gas industry paid $24.7 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties—by far the highest total in Texas history—shattering the previous record of just over $16 billion set in 2019 by 54 percent.”
“$24.7 billion translates to roughly $67 million every day that pays for Texas’ public schools, universities, roads, first responders and other essential services.”
Texas’ report comes on the heels of new data in New Mexico showing the importance of the oil and natural gas industry for the state’s economy, with the industry driving record revenue for fiscal year 2023. In January, the legislature kicked off a 60-day session to decide how to spend the state’s record funds, which include more than $3.6 billion in surplus “new money” that is largely attributable to New Mexico’s energy industry.
Joe Vigil, spokesperson for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, expanded on this further in a statement:
“Oil and gas money is necessary to New Mexico to fund public services like education and roads, providing about a third of the state’s budget each year since 2014. He said oil and gas in New Mexico generated about $63.3 billion in industry revenue, contributing about $5.3 billion to state and local governments in the past year.”
Services Demonstrate Importance of Continued Energy Investments
These vital services that state and local governments, students, and communities depend on and are funded by the energy industry demonstrate the importance of continued investment in domestic energy production.
Unfortunately, the delay and obstruction of federal lands leasing seen over the past two years – where the Biden administration has leased fewer oil and gas acres than any other administration since World War II – can and will have a direct impact on the funding of these critical services.
For example, in 2021, New Mexico became the second-largest producer of oil in the country, with approximately 54 percent of that production taking place on federal lands. Royalties and other payments from the oil and natural gas industry make up approximately 35 percent of New Mexico’s budget.
Yet the Biden administration has significantly slowed federal leasing in the state, only holding or scheduling a total of two sales, with a current average of 0.67 lease sales per year. Even if the Biden administration were to hold three lease sales this year, it will have only offered an average of 1.7 lease sales per year in New Mexico – significantly less than the Obama and Trump administrations – and surely causing a direct impact on the state’s ability to fund needed services.
Bottom Line: The U.S. oil and natural gas industry is also a success story in how the industry works hand in hand with student success, workforce development, and education by contributing billions of dollars to critical community services. This is just another reason why robust domestic energy is needed to fuel our homes and families – in more ways than just keeping the lights on.