Despite the rhetoric and circus of side issues, the presidential election really comes down to one thing—jobs. While Governor Romney and President Obama have been fairly vague on their proposed economic policies, they’ve both indicated that energy development will be a significant factor in creating opportunity and getting people back to work.
Both candidates have advocated for an “all of the above” approach, using traditional fossil fuels in tandem with renewable sources like wind and solar. The problem is that “all of the above” is a slogan—and a cop-out —not a strategy. If we want to get serious about energy independence and creating jobs in the process, we have to look at the best solutions and focus our efforts developing those energy options, verses throwing money at anything that seems like it might have the least bit of promise.
As a North Dakota resident, I’ve seen firsthand the enduring economic benefits of exploiting our natural resources. Developing our natural gas around the country is one of the most promising options to get our economy back on track. Advances in accessing this resource means cheaper energy and thousands of new jobs. It also leads the United States a step closer to energy independence.
This industry has been instrumental in generating billions of dollars in revenue and creating millions of jobs. An analysis of the American Petroleum Institute’s public data and independent research finds that the industry has distributed $176 billion in wages and supports 9.2 million American jobs. A report by ICF International discovered natural gas production will lead to 835,00 to 1.6 million new jobs in the United States by 2017 and increase the country’s gross domestic product by $167 billion to $245 billion on a net basis.
Furthermore, natural gas is a flexible energy source and can be used for anything from producing steel, glass to fueling cars or heating and cooling homes. It’s proven to be more affordable than gasoline, and would create stable and reliable prices for businesses so they can focus on building an infrastructure without having to worry about fluctuating fuel costs.
According to the most recent studies by the Energy Information Administration, the United States has some 2,214 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. New drilling technologies have made enough domestically produced gas available to provide around 100 years of supply in North America alone at current production rates.
Natural gas isn’t just a solution to our nation’s energy needs, it is the solution. We need policies that support this critical industry and give it the chance to flourish. Policies that inhibit developing these resources further don’t just delay progress, they hurt the people that would benefit from the jobs and energy security natural gas provides.
Americans are tired of slogans and eager for solutions. They don’t care what it sounds like if it doesn’t work—they just care about results.
Jason Stverak is the President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. This column originally appeared on Real Clear Policy.