Democrats should be rooting for America’s oil and natural gas producers to succeed—the nine million people employed by the industry and millions of shareholders certainly are. Not cheering yet? You should be. In all likelihood, you are Big Oil.
Nearly half the population holds stock in oil and natural gas companies through pension funds—there are 145 million retirement accounts invested in oil and natural gas companies. The average value of these pension accounts is less than $55,000. 48.6 million American families hold IRAs that are invested in oil and natural gas companies—80 percent of these IRA holders earn $70,000 or less. All in all, corporate management owns 2.8 percent of oil companies; middle class Americans largely own the rest.
But Americans looking to retire comfortably aren’t the only ones pulling for oil and natural gas companies—so are the millions employed by the industry. Each well an oil and natural gas producer drills costs millions, sometimes billions of dollars. This money is spent purchasing drill bits from Wisconsin, steel from Pennsylvania, computers from California, and assets from every other state. Paying their workers a premium of $96,844, more than twice the national average, oil and natural gas companies ensure their employees are well compensated.
The pending Keystone Pipeline XL—an oil pipeline that would deliver crude oil from Canada to refiners in Oklahoma and Texas—is a great case study. Providing an immediate boon to the struggling Midwest, the project is slated to cost about $12 billion dollars and would create 13,000 construction jobs. Just as important is the ripple effect the Keystone pipeline would have on the larger American economy. The Keystone pipeline would create over 340,000 additional U.S. jobs between 2011 and 2015 in related manufacturing and service industries.
In fact, safely developing America’s natural resources would create 530,000 jobs by 2025. Unfortunately for unemployed Americans, the Obama Administration has effectively barred these jobs through prohibitive agencies like the Department of the Interior and Environmental Protection Agency. Instead of facilitating economic growth, Democrats and the Obama Administration have proposed job killing tax increases on an industry so many have come to rely on.