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Energy Industry Could Add 1.4 Million U.S. Jobs Without Subsidies: New Study

The United States could create more than one million jobs by 2030 by expanding offshore drilling, limiting federal regulation of shale gas development and quickly approving the Keystone XL pipeline, which faced new opposition Wednesday, according to a study commissioned by an oil industry group.

The study’s bottom line would depend on some major policy shifts by President Barack Obama and Congress, and comes ahead of a key speech by Obama today on his plan to boost U.S. employment as the country struggles to regain its economic footing.

The study, conducted by consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, and paid for by the American Petroleum Institute, found 1.4 million new jobs could be created through more oil and natural gas de-velopment.

The study said expanding oil and gas production would generate more than $800 billion in additional government revenue by 2030 from taxes and drilling leases.

But for such outcomes to be realized, some politically difficult actions would need to be taken by Congress and the Obama administration.

For example, the report assumes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would become open to oil drilling, a move that would likely need congressional support and is strongly opposed by many Democrats.

The job creation cited in the report would also depend on speeding up permits for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and quickly approving TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, both politically sensitive issues that fall under the purview of the Obama administration.

The Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and seven other Nobel Peace laureates have joined groups opposing the approval of a controversial pipeline expansion project that would carry more crude oil from Alberta to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

In a letter released Wednesday, the nine individuals made a personal appeal to Obama to reject the project and focus instead on promoting renewable energy in order to reduce consumption of fossil fuels that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

“It is your decision to make,” said the letter. “The night you were nominated president, you told the world that under your leadership – and working together – the rise of the oceans will begin to slow and the planet will begin to heal. You spoke of creating a clean energy economy. This is a critical moment to make good on that pledge, and make a lasting contribution to the health and well-being of everyone of this planet.”

But the Nobel laureates said a major concern about the project was its link to expanded development of the oilsands sector which consumes large amounts of water and energy in its production process.

“Your rejection of the pipeline provides a tremendous opportunity to begin transition away from our dependence on oil, coal and gas and instead increase investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency,” stated the letter, co-ordinated by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, an Ottawa-based non-profit group founded in 2003 by six of the 12 women ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert, who’s in New York attending the Barclays Capital energy conference, said he’s sensing a more favourable mood among Americans toward the pipeline than earlier this year, partly due to stagnant job numbers in a battered U.S. economy.

“More Americans are recognizing how important projects like this are to America’s job situation,” Liepert said. “Some of the protestations that have drawn attention to this issue have worked in our favour.”

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