Ohio Energy Development Setting an Example for the Nation
The Obama administration has repeatedly called for an extensive, “all-of-the-above” domestic energy policy – one that aims to wean the United States off foreign oil imports by one third by 2025, puts hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work, and restarts our sluggish economy. Now more than ever, with gasoline prices soaring, our nation needs common sense energy solutions that will put Americans back to work and ease the pain at the pump.
But how is this administration’s rhetoric matching its actions?
In recent weeks on the campaign trail in Florida and North Carolina, President Obama has called on Congress to legislate an energy policy which seeks to stifle job-creating American oil and natural gas production through a series of ill-informed, punitive tax hikes on America’s energy producers. Last week in Maryland, the President touted his administration’s continued support for an all-the-above energy strategy, while simultaneously exaggerating production on federal lands and pinning the American people against domestic energy producers. His trip to Ohio was no exception.
As the President arrived in the Buckeye state, he once again seized the opportunity to tout his administration’s energy agenda while inversely pitting the American oil and natural gas industry against the American people. Yet if any state can testify to the positive results increased energy development can create it is Ohio.
As development of Ohio’s shale resources have recently advanced, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped from 10.6 percent in December 2009 to 7.9 percent in December, 2011. The rust belt has been revitalized, reopening steel mills, and injecting private-sector driven prosperity back into hotels, small businesses, and restaurants. As Ohio State Representative Jack Cera recently stated, “We live in an area that has been down for a number of years. The people here welcome economic development.”
And the good news isn’t going anywhere. A recent Ohio Chamber of Commerce study found that oil and natural gas production alone could create more than 65,000 jobs and an almost $4.9 billion investment in the state’s economy by 2014, including $433 million in local and state taxes and $3.3 billion in wages and benefits paid to Ohio’s workforce. Altogether, oil and natural gas development could generate $1.7 billion for Ohio’s economy this year, $5.8 billion next year, and nearly $10 billion in 2014.
From the 229,000 jobs now supported by natural gas development in Pennsylvania, to North Dakota, a state that boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the country thanks to responsible energy development, oil and natural gas production is putting the U.S. back to work and decreasing our reliance on foreign sources of energy. Yet despite the many benefits generated through development, the President fails to acknowledge America’s independent oil and natural gas producers’ dedication to the American people. Beyond the growth in jobs, the re-opened storefronts, the factories back in production, every barrel of oil that the United States produces at home is one less barrel of oil that we need from foreign countries, countries that are often unstable and even hostile to the American way of life. With international tensions building and gasoline prices rising, it’s absolutely vital to increase our own supply of American energy.
As Ohio and the nation anxiously await the President’s remarks, we urge him to take a page out of Ohio’s energy outlook. As Ohio Gov. John Kasich touted in his January State of the State address, “If America can’t have a policy that makes us energy independent, we’ll let Ohio create an energy policy that makes us independent.” It is time that the Obama Administration follow Ohio’s lead and develop a true “all-of-the-above” energy policy that the President promised the American people.
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Virginia “Gigi” Lazenby is the Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA)