Big Oil is America’s Investment Hero, Leader in Transparency

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Let's not shoot the good guy.  “Big Oil” may get a rep as being too big, but recent data from the Progressive Policy Institute tells us American energy companies wear the white cowboy hat in the story.  PPI released a report for July 2012 which reveals U.S. energy firms – which occupy six of the top 15 slots in the report – as "investment heroes" by investing a total of $36.3 billion dollars in the U.S. economy.

PPI’s analysis coincides with a recently released report by Transparency International, which found that energy companies rank among the best in anti-corruption.

So what to make of all of the economic progressive populism that attacks Big Oil for playing by a different set of rules than the rest of us? And what about the calls for tax increases on American energy companies?

The attacks seem to be grossly misplaced, and the policy prescriptions ill-advised.

The data reveals we can thank big oil companies for creating U.S. jobs and generating economic growth.  Of the top ten companies listed in the analysis, three are oil companies.  ExxonMobil, for example, which is number three on the list, invests billions in the discovery of new sources of oil and natural gas which requires domestic investment in buildings, equipment, and software.  In fact, of ExxonMobil's $4.5 billion increase in investment over 2010, almost all was domestic.

Chevron also landed securely in the top ten with $4.8 billion invested in the U.S. economy for 2011, as CEO John Watson recently told USA Today about Chevron’s new shale gas developments in Pennsylvania.  The extraction efforts in Pennsylvania’s shale gas region have generated thousands of jobs and will produce millions in tax revenue for the local and state government.

Leading the U.S. and North America energy revival is the access to once inaccessible resources from the use of new technologies from natural gas to oil from shale.  These resources can now be safely and responsibly developed to the shared benefit of us all.

Given a supportive policy environment, North America has sufficient energy resources and reserves to provide Americans with reliable, affordable, cleaner and responsibly produced energy that will promote economic expansion and competitiveness. Expanded access to additional offshore areas for development, specifically the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast, provides opportunities for significant development of US energy resources.

These are the kinds of job-creating investments that politicians and policymakers should be encouraging, rather than ignoring, or worse yet, singling out for additional regulation and punitive tax increases.   

"[The study] means progressives who care about growth and jobs should acknowledge today’s investment success stories, whether the company is big or small."

When left-leaning policy think tanks begin referring to U.S. energy companies as ‘heroes,’ perhaps it’s time to stop demonizing them.

Dan Packer is the immediate past chairman of the board of directors for the American Association of Blacks in Energy and former president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans.


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