The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Money

September 30, 2012

Petroleum industry economist shares views

 

The chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute believes that North America can achieve full energy independence within 12 years, but only if there is a clear reversal of U.S. policies regarding oil and gas resources.

In an interview with The Register-Herald, economist John Felmy said, “It’s clear that the (U.S.) economy is kind of in a stall. Energy can play a role in turning that around by generating jobs, tax revenue and energy security for the nation.”

Felmy criticized the Obama administration for its focus on renewable energy resources, such as water, wind and biofuels, saying those policies fail to recognize the importance of the fossil fuel industries.

“Renewables have been the focus of the administration in recent years, but we need to employ an ‘all of the above’ strategy in order to achieve energy independence,” Felmy said.

“In a dozen years, we can develop the oil and gas industry here at home and increase imports from Canada, and North America can be 100 percent energy self-sufficient,” he said. “It means jobs, and it strengthens our relationship with Canada. But the government has to move on it.”

Felmy pointed to “vast areas now off-limits for development,” citing coastal areas and federally owned lands that have the potential of yielding vast quantities of fuel if they were opened up to drilling.

“Policies must change,” he said. “Without these additional areas open to development, the country will not be self-sufficient. We have to get the facts out there.”

Felmy emphasized that the twin factors of world supply and world demand are driving oil prices today.

“This reinforces the need to produce oil here, because it will keep the money here,” he said.

“We, as a country, are at a crossroads,” Felmy maintained. “We can pursue a wise economic policy or again commit the mistakes from the past. This administration is looking at strategies that mirror the failed policies of (former President) Jimmy Carter. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

The American Petroleum Institute is a national trade association representing the various aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. For more information on the API, visit www.api.org on the Web.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com

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