At Stake in Offshore Energy Development: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

By April 17, 2009Economy, Energy

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar wrapped up Interior’s four hearings on Outer Continental Shelf energy development Thursday in San Francisco. More on the hearing(s) here.

The best commentary, at least when considering California, that we’ve seen on OCS energy comes from Jack Stewart, the head of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. In today’s San Jose Mercury News, he writes, “Offshore energy development offers California an opportunity“:

For a state in search of stable economic footing, the energy industry can provide the foundation on which to climb.

Since 2001, our state has lost more than 520,000 manufacturing jobs — almost 30 percent of its industrial base — and eliminated roughly 730,000 private-sector jobs. These trends will lead California to ruin. However, expanding the safe, clean exploration of America’s native resources would create 23,000 new jobs and generate more than $420 billion in federal, state and local revenue. Expanded energy development is a step in the right direction.

Many industry jobs would be high-paying and technically intensive, and the money generated through royalty payments, taxes and revenues could help fund schools, roads, hospitals and the essential safety nets so many Californians rely upon. Payments received through expanded exploration would also help to fight the state’s budget deficit, which is expected to swell to $15 billion over the next 18 months. Increased oil and natural gas exploration is the right remedy at the right time, for the right reasons.

Some more California context, from a news release earlier in the month:

Industrial employment in California fell 2.5% over the past twelve months according to the 2009 Directory of California Manufacturers, an industrial guide published annually by Manufacturers’ News, Inc. (MNI), Evanston, IL. MNI reports California lost 41,835 industrial jobs and 494 manufacturers from February 2008 to February 2009, the steepest loss the state has seen in several years.

The policies undertaken by California’s leaders for at least the past decade have failed miserably. State government is broken, the budget is tapped out — there’s a statewide vote next month on $16 billion in tax increases! — and the state’s residents are fleeing for more inviting territory.

Perhaps it’s time to try something new, like increasing the nation’s domestic energy supply.

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