During the past couple years, debate has raged over how our country can create jobs and grow out of the recession. Many of the jobs Washington, D.C., has subsidized in the “green energy” industry are in companies competing with lower-cost labor in China, Mexico and elsewhere. In some cases, the company getting the subsidy declared bankruptcy when the government money was exhausted or it moved manufacturing overseas. Jobs may have been created, but not in the United States.
The frustrating thing about this situation is we in Louisiana know what creates jobs in the United States: producing our own energy by developing domestic oil and natural gas. People in north Louisiana know better than anyone how energy exploration produces jobs. The Haynesville Shale discovery has reinvigorated local communities and produced thousands of well-paying jobs.
The recent discovery of natural gas in the Lower Smackover formation may produce thousands more jobs. Just over the past few years, we have discovered over a 100-year supply of clean-burning natural gas in the United States. The natural gas industry supports nearly 3 million jobs and contributes almost $400 billion to the national economy with the potential to add more. The Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and the Outer Continental Shelf are filled with oil and natural gas resources.
Louisiana’s rich job-creating natural resources do not reside within the boundaries of one congressional district or state. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, it is my responsibility to highlight Louisiana’s economic potential and show the nation Louisiana stands ready to lead the way in domestic energy development. I recently traveled to Shreveport and Monroe to explore ways to use Louisiana’s natural resources to create jobs, improve the economy and cut prices at the pump.
Government can hurt or help. In the natural gas-rich Marcellus region of the Northeast, Shell is building a $2 billion plant that will create more than 16,000 good-paying jobs. This development can occur wherever there is natural gas, and especially here in Louisiana, where natural gas and other energy sources are abundant. The job-creating power of the energy industry also is in U.S. Labor Department data. In the August jobs report, the only bright spot was mining, which is to say oil and natural gas, which created 6,000 jobs for people right here in the United States. Energy is good for America and good for American workers. We need to ensure government empowers companies to create these jobs.
Moreover, government should help create a stable marketplace and regulatory environment. In the Gulf of Mexico, regulation turned the oil moratorium into a “permitorium,” which prevented new leases and, more importantly, the creation of thousands of jobs. Government regulation also has slowed oil drilling off the Alaskan and Virginian coasts. Construction of the Keystone XL — a pipeline that would bring Canadian oil to the Gulf of Mexico for refining — could produce thousands of jobs and import millions of barrels of Canadian oil, yet it continues to be stalled by regulatory roadblocks. These projects are the future of our economy. Perhaps more importantly, every job created by the energy industry leads to good-paying jobs in manufacturing, construction and even transportation.
This is a jobs plan that works. We as Americans should work to promote development of domestic energy. We can infuse our economy with new life by developing our vast natural resources. Doing so will accelerate job growth throughout Louisiana and put America on firmer financial footing. There is a way to get our economy back on track, and Louisiana energy can lead the way.
Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D., represents Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District and serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This piece originally appeared in the Shreveport Times.