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Former Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.: “Get out of the way” to create new jobs “now”

A recent piece by Former Congressman and NYU Professor Harold Ford, Jr. in the Wall Street Journal outlines both the importance of the oil and gas sector to American employment and highlights efforts to create new energy jobs.  From the local shipyard in Philadelphia set to create 1,000 jobs in new oil-tanker transport construction to the tens of thousands estimated to be created by the Keystone XL pipeline, American businesses are moving in innovative ways to boost employment during hard economic times.

“We spend so much time theorizing about new steps government can take to create jobs that we sometimes overlook the jobs that are right in front of us waiting for government approval.

Take the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline running from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. It would create tens of thousands of new jobs in construction, maintenance and refining. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supports the project, yet regulatory hurdles remain. States like Nebraska, whose approval is overdue, need to get on board with Secretary Clinton and help push this massive jobs creation project through.

With millions of Americans clamoring for employment opportunities, there is no excuse to delay. A study released last month by the Woods Mackenzie research firm found that 1.4 million jobs and $800 billion in new government revenue could be created over the next two decades by removing barriers to increased domestic oil and gas production. These are high-paying jobs, available now, and private industry—not the taxpayer—is making the investment.

We need to support leaders who are working to realize the enormous potential of America’s oil and gas industry. I don’t agree with everything President Obama has done on the economic front, but it has been unfortunate to watch fellow Democrats not back him on energy projects like the Arctic Sea permits. To ignore these resources and economic potential is counterproductive.”

Read Congressman Ford’s piece here.  American energy companies could create some 1.4 million jobs over the next two decades – so long as the government lifts restrictions on boosting oil and gas production.  Ultimately, as Congressman Ford notes, “Americans are asking where the jobs are. The answer: They’re all around us. We need to get out of their way, now.”

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Political Spin Lacks Job Creating Potential of Keystone XL Pipeline

In a classic attempt at political misdirection, President Obama and his cabinet are pushing an overtly partisan and impassable $450 billion “jobs” bill to deflect blame for a lack of economic improvement to a “do nothing Congress”(see Harry Truman). Amazingly, while attempting to redirect voter anger over the wildly fluctuating stock market, a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, and an unsure future at best, the Administration continues to ignore real job growth opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

Instead of embracing a potential 1.4 million jobs by expanding energy production and refining, the President proposed a $41 billion tax increase on the industry; a move which could cost 155,000 American jobs and $53.5 billion in government revenue. But these tax increases are not the only area where job growth opportunities aren’t being capitalized on.

The Keystone XL Pipeline, a project to link Canadian oil sands to U.S. refineries, has been on hold for three years while the U.S. State Department produced an environmental impact statement (EIS). The final EIS released by Sec. Hillary Clinton’s department earlier this year concluded that the project posed no significant environmental threat, so Keystone XL should be moving forward, right? Wrong. It is now facing further delays from a flurry of environmental activism, and approximately zero of the 20,000 immediate construction jobs the pipeline promises to create have been realized.

Activists oppose the development of Canadian crude oil, but fail to realize that development will go forward with or without approval of the pipeline. If the Administration does not move on the project, the energy resources and jobs will instead be shipped to China, a quickly emerging economic powerhouse rivaling the U.S. in the global economy.

The $7 billion privately funded project to build a pipeline from Alberta to several of the nation’s 148 oil refineries would generate billions in government revenue. This capital could then be reinvested in the country without raising taxes.

Conversely, the President’s jobs plan would use $140 billion on infrastructure updates by increasing taxes. While the nation certainly needs infrastructure updates, squeezing U.S. businesses of the dollars they could use to grow and hire, in an attempt to create stimulus jobs that offer nothing back to the economy, is a shortsighted strategy and business as usual in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, the rest of the country is suffering from a high unemployment rate and things are far from usual. Instead of pursuing costly and ultimately futile government temporary jobs programs the Administration should get out of the way and allow projects which create real jobs and capital, like Keystone XL to go forward. Over 15,000 U.S. companies are active in oil and gas exploration, supporting the employment of more than 9 million Americans. Administration support for this industry and job creating projects like Keystone will increase the demand for U.S. workers, reduce unemployment, and gain the President credibility as a job creator going into the 2012 election. On the other hand, tax increases and delays will only increase the demand for political spin to account for more losses in the jobs market.

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New Study: Repealing Tax Deductions on U.S. Energy Companies Exacerbates Federal Deficit, Increases U.S. Debt

Louisiana State University Endowed Chair of Banking and nationally-renowned economist Dr. Joseph R. Mason today released a just-completed study that finds the Administration’s proposal to carve out U.S. energy firms from receiving certain tax deductions would have a net negative impact on federal revenues.

The morning of the study’s release, Dr. Mason spoke at a Policy Briefing Breakfast hosted by The Hill entitled “Energy Policy & Deficit Debate” where he highlighted the findings from his study.  See the video below for highlights from Dr. Mason’s commentary.

Afterwards, Dr. Mason appeared on Fox Business Channel to discuss his study and the broad, harmful economic impact of repealing oil and gas tax incentives.  Click here to see the interview.

Read Dr. Mason’s full study here.

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Happy Holidays From BP

In its post Gulf spill commercials, BP promised to “make it right.”  That’s a good PR pitch.  Unfortunately, BP, whose somewhat questionable safety and operational record led to the whole mess, is showing many individuals that that is all it is – a pitch.

For Thomas Clements, who lost 2 employees and watched helplessly as his business decreased by over 50% from the moratorium imposed by the Obama Administration in the wake of the spill, these are troubled times. Just in time for the holidays, BP denied his claim for emergency relief. (See letter below.) Without recompense from the company responsible for the mess, the ringing in of 2011 could be a death knell for Clements’ enterprise, CNC Machining (along with the loss of how many employees?).

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The second line will have to wait

New Orleans’s funeral traditions dictate that loved ones are carried to the cemetery to the tune of a somber dirge. It has been five years since Katrina ravaged the region, but over the past 4 months since the BP oil spill and the resulting drilling moratorium brought a halt to life, work, and hope, these melancholy tunes have become a soundtrack of daily life throughout the Gulf region all over again.

Today could be a milestone day for the region though. In the Gulf of Mexico, the flow of oil has been successfully halted and new reports indicate that the remaining underwater oil plume has been completely depleted — a major event for the notorious spill. Simultaneously, thousands of miles away in Washington, the White House Oil Spill Commission is meeting.  This commission needs to do the right thing and call for President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to end the region’s other major spill – the jobs spill.

To bring attention to the ongoing American jobs spill and to let the White House and Congress know that the Gulf Coast’s future is in their hands, we’ve released the video below:

Today should be a day of celebration, where the unique Bayou Spirit that defines the region bursts out and says – laissez les bon temps rouler! – let the good times roll again.  But that decision is in the hands of those in Washington.  Let’s hope they hear the pleas of our fellow Gulf citizens  –  otherwise, the second line may have to wait a bit longer.

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Telling Truths About Taxes

Ask the average American who gets massive tax breaks and she will likely name large corporations, Wall Street, or Big Oil.  Unfortunately, the media is almost as fond of propagating the mythical and false vision of the oil and gas as recipients of handouts as it is fond of peddling the falsehood that alternative energy sources are perfect, cost-efficient and problem-free.  Even the New York Times has proven misinformed on the issue, claiming the energy industry enjoys some of the most hefty federal tax breaks available.

In reality, the energy industry is saddled with an effective tax rate of around 33 percent – and that includes all the tax “breaks” it receives.

As the graphic below shows, based on Congress’s own Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) data, American companies in the oil and gas industry receive a mere fraction (less that $1 billion per year in tax breaks each year).  In comparison, tax advantages handed out to renewable energy sources amount to almost $13 billion each year. What do taxpayers receive as a result of their massive investment in these government-preferred energy sources?  For starters, renewable energy provides only one twelfth of the more than nine million jobs the oil and natural gas industry provides.  Additionally, renewable energy, which provides less than two percent of the energy we use, is expensive, unreliable, and intermittent.

If we are going to have a conversation about taxes, who pays them, and what benefits we get from them, let’s start telling the truth.

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