The day before Obama's jobs speech, the oil industry released its own roadmap for American job growth. Repealing regulations on the oil and gas industry, the report states, could create 1.4 million jobs over the next seven years and over $800 billion in revenue over the next 20.
In his own speech, however, Obama paid no lip service to the oil industry's recommendations. As AOL Jobs reports, the president offered congress five central proposals: cut payroll taxes, develop the country's transport system, repair school infrastructure, get veterans hired, and provide businesses a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed.
Obama's only mention of the oil industry was not particularly supportive. "Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies?" he asked Congress. "Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers? Because we can't afford to do both."
The suggestions in the report, sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's largest lobby, were emphatically missing from Obama impassioned call. These included an expansion of offshore drilling, increased production of natural gas in New York and other states, and the approval of a $6 billion pipeline to bring crude oil from Canada to Texas refineries.
API argues that the current regulatory environment delays the issuance of leases and drilling permits and inflates the cost of gas extraction due to water and air quality controls. Undoing these regulations, the report claims, would increase the nation's oil and natural gas production by 10 million barrels by 2030, enabling the country to produce more of the energy it consumes and import less foreign oil.
The API's projections may be encouraging, but every single one of its proposed measures to meet those goals is deeply controversial. For example, the report recommends opening up the Eastern Gulf of Mexico for oil-drilling. In the wake of the BP oil spill last year, the Obama administration reversed its stance on offshore drilling and declared a moratorium on any drilling along the nation's East Coast.
The report also proposes opening up Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge for drilling - a debate that has been waging for over 30 years. Environmentalists, most congressional Democrats, Obama, and Native Alaskan tribes oppose drilling in the region, because of the ecological havoc it would wreak. The report claims that opening up access to Alaska, primarily in the ANWR, would create over 120,000 jobs and $22 billion of government revenue in the next 20 years. Until a few years ago, most Americans opposed drilling in the refuge, but after gas prices spiked in 2008, polls by Pew and Gallup found that 50 to 60 percent of Americans now support the idea.
The proposed 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring the tar sands oil of Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast refineries, is considered one of the biggest environmental issues of the moment. The report urges its construction without delay, and GOP contenders like Mitt Romney have been vocal in their support of the project. Environmentalists counter that the pipeline would tap into the "the continent's biggest carbon bomb." If all the oil in the tar sands were burned, the atmosphere's carbon dioxide concentration would explode by 54 percent, "which would mean if not not hell, then at least a world with a similar temperature," argues Bill McKibben, the author of "Eaarth: making a Life on a Tough New Planet."
More immediately, the pipeline could pollute the Ogallala Aquifier, the Midwest's most important sources of water. For this reason, Nebraska's Republican governor sent a pleading letter to the president last week, asking him to abandon the project. The State Department released a report last month concluding that the pipeline would have minimal environmental impact, but acknowledging the risk of pollution. The Obama administration will make a final decision on the pipeline later this year.
Obama has not publicized any final conclusions on most of the API's proposed policies. But it is clear from Obama's speech Thursday evening that he does not plan to make oil and gas industry deregulation a key part of his jobs plan. He has, however, recently showed his willingness to anger environmentalists in the name of economic considerations. Last week, Obama requested that the EPA withdraw its new air quality standard for smog.
"I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover," Obama wrote in a statement.
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