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Oil and natural gas development a ‘can’t miss’ opportunity

  • Published Wednesday, May 15, 2013, at 10:31 p.m.

Thanks to more domestic oil and natural gas development, we are becoming more energy independent every day.

This new age of American oil and natural gas brings high-paying jobs, increased tax revenues and economic growth, while lessening our dependence on foreign oil.

Literally from the moment oil was discovered over 150 years ago, right up through today, people in positions of power and influence have been telling us the world is running out of energy, and in particular oil and natural gas. However, new technology and innovations have allowed independent producers to access more oil and natural gas reserves. We have enough fossil fuel resources right here in America to provide reliable affordable energy for decades, even centuries to come.

To give you an idea of the scope of the abundance, the National Petroleum Council just a decade ago estimated total remaining natural gas reserves in the contiguous 48 states at about 45 years at current consumption levels. Last year, the firm ICF International estimated total remaining natural gas resources at more than 140 years, also at current consumption levels.

The study also showed that by 2017, we could increase our production of oil and other petroleum liquids by 630 million barrels per year. That is more than current production in the Gulf of Mexico.

These gains in oil and natural gas production will create thousands of new jobs and help spur economic growth. Estimates suggest new oil and natural gas production could increase our nation’s GDP by as much as 2 percent and create more than 300,000 jobs. But this could be just the beginning, if we get our energy policy right today.

We need energy policy leaders who will pursue sensible energy policies and will let science guide their decisions, not political ideology. And this becomes a problem when looking at the stark difference between the rate of new energy development on private and state lands versus federal land.

President Obama recently expressed pride in the fact that oil production is higher than it has been in a decade or more. He continues to take credit for soaring domestic oil and natural gas production as if he planned it that way. But the facts suggest something else.

A new Congressional Research Service report finds: “All of the increased (oil) production from 2007 to 2012 took place on non-federal lands.” The CRS study further finds that federal oil production fell more than 23 percent from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2012 and is today below what it was in 2007. The facts speak for themselves. The gains in oil and natural gas production have occurred on private and state-controlled land, not federal land.

The independent oil and natural gas industry embodies the spirit of the American entrepreneur by taking chances on new wells, new techniques and new technologies that provide the energy that supports our way of life. The American oil and natural gas renaissance is occurring because the independent oil and natural gas industry is committed to investment and job creation in the U.S. and is using new technology and innovation.

At a time of slow economic growth, high unemployment, deficits and the daunting challenge of funding growing entitlements, oil and natural gas development is a “can’t miss” opportunity that could help grow our economy and provide thousands of good-paying jobs. We need leaders in Washington that understand that.

Policymakers should take time to understand the facts about energy and the obstacles to making it affordable and reliable. And we must educate policymakers across the nation to separate fact from fiction, reality from myth, and proven practices from hyperbole. We need sensible energy policy to encourage more American oil and natural gas production. And we must continue to push against misguided attempts to impose punitive taxes on the oil and gas industry to score political points rather than to address our nation’s fiscal crisis.

It would be unforgivable if, based on flawed science or outdated assumptions, this country were to abdicate its responsibility to future generations by missing this opportunity to lead on energy and to put control of our energy future back into our own hands.

Edward Cross is president of the Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association.

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