February 22, 2016

EEIA: “Hundreds Of Thousands Of Jobs” At Risk If Congress Bans Energy Exploration On Public Lands

Over the last two months, members of the U.S. House and Senate have introduced legislation (S. 2238 in the Senate and H.R. 4535 in the House) to prohibit new fossil fuel production leases on federal lands and offshore. This ban would affect coal, oil and natural gas production and also includes a provision to cancel existing leases that are currently in a non-producing status. 

According to MSCI’s partners at the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance, these bills would have a devastating effect on the metals manufacturing sector. Last week the EEIA noted that, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, during fiscal year 2014 about 1.9 million barrels per day of crude oil, 9.7 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas and 421 million tons of coal were produced in the areas that would be affected by this legislation. While a majority of the oil (68 percent) came from offshore leases, most (74 percent) of the natural gas was produced onshore in Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado. 

The EEIA said if a federal lands ban were to become law, hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars of business in the energy supply chain – manufacturing and distribution, construction and equipment, materials and supplies, services and logistics – would be at risk. These losses would be felt throughout the country. 

The EEIA also noted, while this legislation has virtually no chance of making it through the current Congress, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both endorsed plans to ban fossil energy production leasing on federal lands and offshore. Indeed, Sen. Sanders is a co-sponsor of the Senate bill and is a passionate advocate for it, which means, when presidential candidates are finally nominated, this issue may well become one of the central policy differences in the general election campaign. That would move the issue from its current position on the fringe, to a bona fide mainstream policy choice. If control of either house of Congress were to change hands in 2017, there would likely be Congressional hearings on the matter, further raising the risk of the initiative gaining momentum.