Today I testified before the President’s oil spill commission in Washington D.C., relaying my experiences in post-BP Louisiana. I relayed to its members a clear message from our region, including the nearly 20,000 workers who have already lost their jobs due to the administration’s drilling moratorium: “We are not the second-class citizens that this White House and Congress are treating us as.”
On top of the disastrous economic effects triggered by the hastily enforced offshore drilling ban, Washington’s relentless vilification of our oil and gas industry has set us on course for other, deleterious, long-term consequences.
By disparaging our traditional energy field, politicians are steering the young engineers and college graduates who would traditionally enter into this profession toward other careers. This alarming migration presents a couple of serious problems. Green energy—the major recipient of many would-be traditional energy employees—has proved incapable of supporting America’s growing energy demand. Despite receiving $12.5 billion in taxpayer expenditures—15 times the amount distributed for fossil-fuel technologies—renewable sources have been able to account for only 7% of domestic energy demand. Experts predict that green technology will not be an affordable, viable energy source for nearly four decades. If the U.S. is unable to cultivate domestic resources, we will necessarily turn to other countries, increasing our reliance on foreign oil and sending more jobs overseas.
Additionally, if we direct our best and brightest out of the oil and gas industries, we decrease the rate and even likelihood of technological breakthroughs, improved safety records, and higher production levels. Europe has seen this trend play out as a result of their demonizing of oil and gas. On the other end of the spectrum, Chinese energy employees are hailed as heroes, and the country relies on an aggressive policy of purchasing resources to fuel its growing economy into the 22nd century.
Exploration and production of our vital energy resources requires billions in investment, not only for acquiring the rights to search for it, but—once it has been located—for safely and efficiently extracting it with the latest drilling technologies. Our fossil-fuel sector is responsible for supporting millions of jobs across the nation and offers affordable sources of energy on which we all depend to allow us to drive our cars, heat our homes, transfer goods, and maintain a productive economy.
President Obama’s oil spill commission has been tasked with determining the cause of the BP spill and recommending ways to ensure that a similar catastrophe doesn’t occur again. Yet, the continual attacks on traditional-energy companies run counter to the objective of improving the safety of the sector. Without acknowledging the real value that oil and gas workers add to the economic growth of our country, our elected officials in Washington could be driving us toward a calamitous energy future.