Appalachian Basin

Report Highlights Vast Economic Benefits of Oil and Gas Development on Federal Lands

Over the past few months, national anti-fracking groups who are part of the “Keep It in the Ground” movement have set their attentions on stopping federal leasing programs across the country. As part of that effort, national groups like, the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, Food & Water Watch and the Rainforest Action Network have deployed teams of activists to show up in Ohio and Colorado to oppose oil and gas development on public lands. But a new report by the Institute for Energy Research (IER) shows the vast benefits of development on federal lands, which these fringe activists are trying to stop. According to the IER report, development would mean:

  • “GDP would increase by $127 billion annually in the next seven years, and $663 billion annually in the next thirty years
  • $20.7 trillion cumulative increase in economic activity over the next thirty-seven years, simply by allowing Americans to go to work producing energy
  • 552,000 jobs would be created annually over the next seven years, with 2.7 million jobs annually over the next thirty years
  • $32 billion increase in annual wages over the next seven years, with a cumulative increase of $5.1 trillion over thirty-seven years
  • The federal government would receive an additional $3.9 trillion in federal tax revenues over thirty-seven years, while state and local tax revenues would rise by $1.9 trillion over the same time period.” (emphasis added)

The Executive Summary goes on to say,

“The economic impulses created by opening federal lands and waters to oil, gas, and coal extraction could therefore help significantly to spur economic growth — and help break the economy out of its sluggish post-recessionary malaise. Importantly, those benefits would be realized without any increase in direct government spending. Rather, increased output would refill national, state, and local government coffers without additional government outlays.” (emphasis added)

Groups participating in the “Keep It in the Ground” movement say they are fighting global warming, but they ignore the very real climate benefits of natural gas. Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which activists have called the “gold standard” for climate science, has said,

“the rapid deployment of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies…is an important reason for a reduction of GHG emissions in the United States.”

Further, thanks to natural gas, carbon emissions from electricity production have declined to a 20-year low in the United States, and natural gas has reduced nearly 60 percent more carbon dioxide emissions than renewables since 2005. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy said,

“Responsible development of natural gas is an important part of our work to curb climate change.”

Even Democratic presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, acknowledged just last week that,

“Domestically produced natural gas has played a critical role in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants,”

and that

Domestically produced natural gas can play an important role in the transition to a clean energy economy, creating good paying jobs and careers, lowering energy costs for American families and businesses, and reducing air pollution that disproportionately impacts low income communities and communities of color.”

Banning fossil fuels is not what our country needs either from an economic or environmental perspective, and groups that have taken that approach are on the fringe and way out of touch with reality. Natural gas is already benefiting the environment and helping the United States to achieve major climate goals, and as this IER report shows, will continue to have a tremendous impact on the economy.

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