Natural Gas Boom Myths

April 15, 2014

A number of myths have developed concerning America's oil boom, says Mark Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Soon, the United States will no longer be dependent on foreign energy imports, thanks to the incredible growth of domestic oil and gas production. The United States is now the largest producer in the world of natural gas, and our economy has benefited by hundreds of billions of dollars as a result from the boom in hydrocarbon production.

Regulators need to loosen their grip on these producers and allow them to continue to grow, not strangle them with new regulations. This is why it is so important to debunk the major myths about U.S. oil production.

  • Myth 1: The profits all go to "Big Oil." This is not the case. More than 20,000 small- and medium-sized oil and gas firms exist in the United States, with a median size of just 15 employees. Not only do these smaller firms produce three quarters of the oil and gas in America, but they are responsible for nearly 100 percent of the recent boom.
  • Myth 2: Energy is an old business, not the future. Not so. Technology is largely responsible for this energy boom because "smart" drilling -- which uses sensors and computers -- was combined with horizontal drilling and fracking to reach all of this oil and gas.
  • Myth 3: Oil jobs are just in a few oil boom towns. Mills explains that there are plenty of jobs beyond Texas and North Dakota. In fact, for every oil job, there are three or four created elsewhere -- from information services to education. And in each of the 10 states that have increased their hydrocarbon production, employment growth statewide has outperformed the nation as a whole over the last six years. Behind Texas, the top hydrocarbon-supported jobs are actually in California, Florida, New York, Illinois and Ohio.

To keep this boom going, the federal government needs to get rid of laws that restrict natural gas exports. By allowing exports, the United States could reach more customers, which means more investment in the United States and more jobs for American workers. States can regulate oil and gas production just fine -- there is no need for the federal government to impose arduous regulations on top of state laws.

Source: Mark P. Mills, "3 Myths on Our Natural Gas Boom," USA Today, April 3, 2014.

 

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