"Considering the brutal recession, you'd expect the Obama administration to be obsessed with creating jobs. And so it is, say the president and his supporters. The trouble is that there's one glaring exception to their claims: the oil and natural gas industries. The administration is biased against them -- a bias that makes no sense on either economic or energy grounds. Almost everyone loves to hate the world's Exxons, but promoting domestic drilling is simply common sense.
Contrary to popular wisdom, the United States still has huge oil and natural gas resources. The outer continental shelf (OCS), including parts that have been off-limits to drilling since the early 1980s, may contain much natural gas and 86 billion barrels of oil, about four times today's "proven" U.S. reserves. The U.S. Geological Survey recently estimated that the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana may hold 3.65 billion barrels, more than 20 times a 1995 estimate. And there's upward of 2 trillion barrels of oil shale, concentrated in Colorado. If only 800 billion barrels were recoverable, that would be triple Saudi Arabia's proven reserves.
None of these sources, of course, will quickly provide oil or natural gas. Projects can take 10 to 15 years. The OCS reserve estimates are just that. Oil and gas must still be located -- a costly and chancy process. Extracting oil from shale (in effect, a rock) requires heating the shale and poses major environmental problems. Its economic viability remains uncertain. But any added oil could ultimately diminish dependence on imports, now almost 60 percent of U.S. consumption, while exploration and development would immediately boost high-wage jobs (geologists, petroleum engineers, roustabouts).
Though straightforward, this logic mostly eludes the Obama administration, which is fixated on "green jobs" and wind and solar energy. Championing "clean" fuels has become a political set piece. On Earth Day (April 22), the president visited an Iowa factory that builds towers for wind turbines. "We can remain the world's leading importer of oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of clean energy," he said. "
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Robert J. Samuelson: The Bias Against Oil And Gas
(The Washington Post 5/4)