The United States could create thousands of jobs, billions in revenue, make the country more energy independent and reduce the budget deficit if it properly handles the energy revolution and opportunities that are available, U.S. Chamber and President Tom Donohue said Friday.
In Louisiana alone, unconventional oil and gas plays, shale formations, directly or indirectly supported around 80,000 jobs, helped generate $10.7 billion in economic activity and $1.2 billion in state and local taxes, said Donohue, who spoke at a Baton Rouge Area Chamber event at the City Club. Cheap and plentiful natural gas from shale formations has revolutionized the nation’s manufacturing, giving the U.S. petrochemical industry in particular a big advantage over foreign competitors.
“I would tell you there are probably 50 European companies right now walking around this part of the United States, looking for places to put a factory,” Donohue said.
The energy revolution and manufacturing’s competitive advantage mean new jobs, stronger economic growth and more revenue. An abundant supply of domestic energy means higher productivity and exports.
Despite this, the United States is missing out on an enormous opportunity: developing offshore oil and gas resources. Roughly 87 percent of the offshore areas are off limits to drilling and exploration, he said. And the federal government is not being particularly helpful in furthering the energy revolution being driven by private industry.
The recoverable oil off the U.S. coast is greater than that in Asia and Europe combined. And the amounts are probably even higher because the estimates of those reserves are 30 years old. The federal government will not allow companies to take new estimates using state-of-the-art technology.
But if the surveys were done, Donohue believes they would show the United States has the most influence in the world in terms of energy resources.
Donohue said most people are laboring under an incorrect impression: that the country lacks an adequate energy supply.
But the shale developments have shown the United States is sitting on a 200-year supply of oil and more than 100 years of natural gas.
What’s needed, he said, is a faster permitting process for drilling and a predictable and fair regulatory environment.
The country needs to put the right infrastructure and policies in place if the United States wants to capitalize on these enormous resources, he said.