Industry economist says oil, gas development will bring thousands of jobs

2014-01-09T05:30:00Z 2014-05-22T16:29:34Z Industry economist says oil, gas development will bring thousands of jobsBy MIKE DENNISON IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record
January 09, 2014 5:30 am  • 

U.S. energy policy should encourage a domestic oil-and-gas production boom that can foster an “American renaissance” of jobs and economic development, the industry’s top economist told Montana business leaders Wednesday.

John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute, also said it makes

no sense to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline on environmental grounds, because the Canadian oil sands will be developed regardless.

“The notion that you’re going to stop Keystone XL and stop Canadian oil-sands development is just silly,” he said. “Clearly, this is something we need to move forward on.”

Felmy spoke at the Montana Chamber of Commerce’s annual “business days at the Capitol,” a two-day gathering of business and political leaders.

With advances in technology like hydraulic fracturing and deep-water drilling, the industry is finding and developing huge new sources of oil and natural gas in America, Felmy said.

This development can create and is creating thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue, he said, and U.S. energy policy should not stand in the way of this boom.

He said the United States should avoid policy mistakes it made during the 1970s, such as imposing onerous taxes on the industry, price controls or unnecessary regulations that block exploration.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has led to gas development booms in economically depressed areas in the Northeast, he said, and offshore deposits exist in many areas where exploration is blocked.

When asked whether the effect of burning fossil fuels on climate should be a factor in U.S. energy policy, Felmy said the institute is “not in the business of talking about climate science.”

Yet, he did say that if carbon emissions are to be reduced, it should be in a “cost-effective way” that won’t “destroy our economy.”

Felmy said that renewable power such as wind or solar will play a role in the U.S. energy mix, but remains a small segment, and that any economy needs a reliable source of power such as coal, natural gas and oil.

“We’ve got to keep the lights on,” he said. “Because if you can’t have reliable power, you can’t have an economy. …

“During this last cold spell, we didn’t have any wind (power) and we certainly didn’t have any solar. If you didn’t have coal or gas (power), you would have had a whole lot of people suffering.”

Felmy said building the Keystone XL Pipeline to transport crude oil from Alberta to U.S. refineries in the South will actually lead to less environmental impacts than the alternative. Without the pipeline, the oil will be developed and likely shipped overseas to China for refining, he said.

The pipeline means lower carbon emissions and the benefit of economic development in America, he said.

TransCanada has proposed the pipeline, which is awaiting a final decision on a permit by President Barack Obama. The pipeline would go through the northeast corner of Montana.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. n6532l
    Report Abuse
    n6532l - January 11, 2014 11:16 am
    Without the pipeline the oil moves by rail. Moving by rail creates more jobs than the pipeline in the long run because after the pipeline is built most of the jobs go away wheras rail jobs continue.
  2. driven
    Report Abuse
    driven - January 10, 2014 4:44 am
    We have a big problem in this country because the leaders of the country do what they want, and do not care what the people that pay their wage through our taxes are thinking or want. Politicians become politicians for their own benefit. I do not have enough information to form an opinion about the pipeline. I think the American Public does need to keep their lights on and get more involved with what is going on in this country. It is hard but it can be done
  3. GreatWhite
    Report Abuse
    GreatWhite - January 09, 2014 1:31 pm
    Well said. Why not 'reel' in the 'Oil industry' anchor and set sail to other options. Pipelines DO leak and cause environmental destruction. I see 'Fracking' mentioned, discuss how 'wonderful' that is to the towns that are sinking because of 'Fracking'. And ponder that wells have been 'dried up' due to "Fracking" really is NOT a positive to support the already destructive action of the oil industry.

    But, it's nice to see a public acknowledgement that " makes
    no sense to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline on environmental grounds, because the Canadian oil sands will be developed regardless."

    In other words, the voice of the people doesn't matter...we will do what we want.
  4. E-reader
    Report Abuse
    E-reader - January 09, 2014 12:00 pm
    Thanks Mike for bringing this one sided story to our attention. Alas, another example of the shortsightedness of the Chamber. Labor leaders should pay attention to the need for jobs, but keep in mind that the pipeline is as much a threat to our economy as it is to our planet. Let's talk about a sustainable economy not one that threatens the stability of it. Let's talk about jobs that build a solid and healthy future for your children, not one that destroys it.

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