A few weeks ago, when we were basking in a festive holiday spirit, we made a long list of all the things CEA and its supporters had achieved in 2009. But holiday cheer inevitably gives way to the reality of the cold dark winter months, when optimism is replaced by a pressing sense of all the work yet to be done.
This year, mid-January has also brought the anniversary of President Obama’s first year in office, and as the Institute for Energy Research recently concluded, the new policies set over the past 365 days have clearly not supported a strong domestic energy industry.
–In 2009, the Interior Department collected only a very small fraction of oil and gas lease sales it had completed in 2008.
–Less than 3% of the available public lands are leased for oil and gas development. Under Obama’s Interior Department fewer acres – both onshore and off – were leased in 2009 than in any previous year.
One story that covered these new findings quoted CEA’s David Holt blaming excessive red tape. “No administration in history has done more to ensure producers do less,” Holt said.
Meanwhile, Thomas Pyle, who heads the Institute for Energy Research, stresses that energy policy cannot be viewed in a vacuum. In this review of Obama’s first year in office, Pyle notes that the President’s efforts to create jobs have suffered from a focus on “unproven technology that is not economically viable.” Such investments have created only a small number of jobs, compared to what could be created by loosening the restrictions on oil and gas exploration and production, he said.
Just how many jobs can a strong domestic energy industry support? As American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard outlined in a recent speech, the U.S. oil industry directly supports 9.2 million American jobs and created millions of new jobs over the past decade.
As Obama enters his second year with unemployment higher than it has been in a generation and growing cries for aggressive job creation efforts, let’s hope that his administration starts to see the devastating economic impact of its energy policy and works to help ensure that Americans can have both jobs and affordable energy.