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Future Generations Count on Good Energy Policy Now

Posted by Kelly Rains |

Future Generations Count on Good Energy Policy Now

A Message from your KIOGA President, Edward Cross



Today, the U.S. has surpassed all expectations and achieved a level of domestic energy production that was unthinkable even five years ago.  We are now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. 

We all know about the many recent layoffs within the oil and natural gas industry.  However, oil and natural gas production in North America is projected to increase for many years to come.  As a result, we can expect many jobs to be available in the coming years in the oil and natural gas industry. 

As an example, with one change to U.S. energy policy, lifting the prohibition on crude oil exports, the oil and natural gas industry within five years could create up to 300,000 jobs.  Already, this American energy renaissance has added 600,000 jobs between 2009 and 2011 to the nation’s economy at a time when it was needed the most.   

America’s oil and natural gas industry supports 9.8 million jobs and approximately $1.2 trillion in U.S. gross domestic product.  In Kansas, the oil and gas industry supports an estimated 118,000 jobs and over $3 billion in family income.  And these are recognized as challenging, fulfilling and rewarding careers.  Two of Money Magazine’s Top Ten Best Jobs are in the oil and natural gas industry: petroleum geologist and reservoir engineer.

The next generation of Americans will be challenged to expand and maintain our nation’s energy abundance and global energy leadership.   We are at a critical point when it comes to the oil and natural gas workforce.  According to an industry survey, 71% of the oil workforce is 50 years of age or older.  And in the next 7 to 10 years, roughly half of the industry’s current technical personnel are expected to retire.  The oil and natural gas industry will be looking for the next generation of energy industry leaders.   

In the decades ahead the oil and natural gas industry will spur the creation of hundreds of thousands of new, well-paying jobs that require people with a wide range of skill sets, training and educational achievement levels.  To maintain success we need a workforce prepared for the thousands of well-paying career opportunities our industry will create with the right energy policies.

As we approach the end of the school year, I hope that many graduates consider the oil and natural gas industry as they begin their careers.  I recently spoke to a class that completed the “Introduction to the Oilfield” training through the North Central Kansas Technical College (NCK Tech).  I told them to not be discouraged by the cyclical nature of price fluctuation.  The long-term trend is clear.  We will need more energy, specifically oil and natural gas for many years to come.  And I asked that as citizens of our nation and educated members of our society, they listen to facts when it comes to energy policy. 

Too often, energy policy discussions are dominated by the ill-informed whose contributions to the discussions do little to educate and much to misinform.  I asked the class to listen to the facts when it comes to energy policy discussions and focus on what’s important: American jobs, American energy security, and American global energy leadership.

One fundamental fact that should be remembered is fossil fuels will continue to take the lead in providing most of the world’s energy needs well into this century.  President Obama’s Energy Information Administration estimates that 25 years from now, fossil fuels will account for 80% of the country’s energy consumption. 

Here’s another fact, as the oil and natural gas industry has proved for many years, increased domestic energy production does not equate to increased environmental impact. 
EPA recently observed that methane emissions from oil and gas operations have fallen by 73% since 2011.  And a 2014 University of Texas study found that methane emissions are 10% lower than what the same research team found in a study released in September 2013.  Recent studies show that our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions are near 20-year lows, thanks in large part to the significant growth in the use of North American produced natural gas.

The oil and natural gas industry has proven that over the long-term it is possible to lead in energy production AND safe and environmental stewardship.  From 2000 through 2012, the oil and natural gas industry spent more on low and zero-carbon emitting technologies than the federal government has spent, and nearly as much as all other industries’ spending on these technologies combined.

Those are the facts.  Today we have to answer a very fundamental question: Do we move forward and build upon our nation’s new era of energy abundance or do we go back to a time of American energy dependence and uncertainty?   

It is one of the most important national discussions of our time and as such should be fact-based because energy policy is too important to be merely another partisan and ill-informed talking point.

We need a new American understanding of energy and with it a national energy policy based on science, the free market, and entrepreneurial spirit.  Those who act on our behalf at all levels of government should use those principles as the foundation for their energy policy decisions.  The energy policy decisions our nation makes now will determine our nation’s energy future for generations to come.

Future generations are looking to us to get our nation’s energy policy right.  They are counting on us to leave them with a country that is second to none in energy production, security, and economic prosperity.