The congressional Super Committee has a challenge; the oil and natural gas industry wants to be part of the answer.
By Nov. 23 the panel is supposed to come up with proposals to trim about $1.5 trillion from the deficit over the next 10 years. But instead of focusing on ways to create growth that would result in new jobs and revenues to government, some are fixated on punishing tax increases on an industry that's one of the economy's best job generators.
API President and CEO Jack Gerard talked with reporters about tax-hike proposals that continue to be discussed as the Super Committee nears its deadline - as well as a new advertising campaign designed to support some of the panel's members who've opposed efforts to raise energy taxes. Gerard:
"We continue to hear suggestions from some in Congress and elsewhere that our industry should be singled out for tax increases. And this makes absolutely no sense. Increasing taxes on our industry would put a big speed bump in front of the very activities - creating jobs, increasing government revenue - that we should be encouraging. It's a bad idea."
Unfortunately, bad ideas have a way of stubbornly hanging on in Washington. But hiking taxes on productive, job-creating sectors makes no sense, especially in this economy. Gerard:
"Raising taxes only on oil and natural gas companies is not a serious strategy to deal with deficits or a slow economy. In fact, over the longer term, higher taxes would actually mean less revenue to the government because development and production would be reduced, which would reduce taxable income and royalties while increasing our reliance on imported energy. ... Punitive tax measures focused on a job-creating industry are not the right approach."
Here's the right approach: Let America's oil and gas companies do what they do pretty well, which is develop energy sources for this country, creating jobs and economic growth in the process. In 2010 the industry contributed $476 billion to the economy - as Gerard said, "without an act of Congress and at no cost to taxpayers."
Instead of costing the government revenue and losing jobs, opening access to American energy resources could create 1.1 million new jobs and $127 billion in new revenue for government by 2020, according to the Wood Mackenzie energy consulting firm.
The Super Committee has some tough choices in front of it. Nearly everywhere it turns it's likely to run into opposition of some kind. America's oil and natural gas companies are ready to help make the job easier.