(Western Wire) The outlook for the U.S. economy would be vastly different today if environmental activists – who spent record sums trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 election – had their way, according to a new report.
Adopting “keep it in the ground” restrictions on developing oil, natural gas and coal would cost 5.9 million jobs by 2040 and increase household energy expenditures by more than $4,500 a year, said the report, conducted by economics firm OnLocation Inc. and commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute (API). Retail electricity rates could climb by more than 56 percent under policies pushed by groups like 350.org, the Sierra Club and other anti-fossil fuel organizations, the report found.
During last year’s election, environmental groups spent more than $100 million trying to win voter support for anti-fossil fuel policies and elect a president who would build on the environmental programs of the Obama administration. The effort failed, with Republicans winning the presidential election and keeping their majorities in Congress.
But activist groups have vowed to keep fighting and some lawmakers have even reintroduced the Keep It in the Ground Act, a 2015 bill that would halt new oil and gas drilling and coal mining on federal land. On a conference call with reporters today, API warned this effort is both misguided and potentially costly.
“While 80 percent of American voters support increased U.S. oil and natural gas production, a vocal minority are working to obstruct energy development and infrastructure projects, reducing our energy options under a false belief that oil and natural gas production and use are incompatible with environmental progress,” API president and CEO Jack Gerard said. “Their vision is one of constrained energy choices, with less energy certainty and reliability, and with less assurance on affordable power.”
OnLocation, the firm that produced today’s report, has provided technical support to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) for more than 20 years. Using the same economic modeling tools as EIA, the firm estimated the economic impacts of the “keep it in the ground” agenda.
“[T]he study explores what would happen if we halted new oil and natural gas leases, banned hydraulic fracturing, prohibited new or expanded coal mines, and stopped permitting energy infrastructure, including pipelines and import [and] export facilities,” Gerard said. “This is what ‘keep it in the ground’ means.”
“Only twice in the past 70 years has the U.S. unemployment rate exceeded 8.2 percent, but ‘keep it in the ground’ would take us there again, plunging the economy into persistent recession-level unemployment,” he said.