What’s overlooked in the top story

Today it was announced that the Gulf oil spill, better known around these parts as the Deepwater Horizon disaster, was voted the top news story of 2010 in an annual AP poll of editors and news directors.

But there’s an overlooked element of the story that may last longer than the effects of the light sweet crude which spewed from the ruins of a wellhead (and has mainly either dissipated in the seawater or been removed as tar balls onshore.)

It was the perfect excuse for the Obama Administration to place a lengthy ban on giving out new permits for offshore drilling and then rescind the plans for new drilling leases in offshore waters. In turn, that’s costing our economy thousands of jobs, as Jack Gerard of API points out:

“The oil and natural gas industry is a reliable vehicle for growing the economy and creating good-paying jobs. This decision (to cancel new offshore leases) shuts the door on new development off our nation’s coasts and effectively ensures that new American jobs will not be realized. It will stifle investment, deny billions in revenue for critical government services and increase our dependence on foreign energy sources.

“The oil and natural gas industry is committed to safe and environmentally responsible operations, and both the industry and regulators have added new safeguards to ensure such operations. This reversal on new lease sales off America’s coasts comes on top of a de facto moratorium, which has all but stopped new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Obviously the story focused on the economic damage to the Gulf seafood industry. Indeed, it was a very tough blow to their finances but for many assisting BP or filing claims for damages with them, they were made as whole as possible. Yet taking away the livelihoods of thousands of oil company workers didn’t seem to be nearly as high on the priority list, and little attention was paid to their demands when they had their own “Rally for Economic Survival” back in July.

Yet where the energy industry is allowed to do its job, there are jobs being created. An oil boom in, of all places, North Dakota has led them to the lowest unemployment rate in the nation (3.8% in November) and the state is doing its best to encourage the Williston Basin boom. And private industry is following suit – see how this works?

On the other hand, so-called ‘green’ jobs tend to be one-time production jobs for the components and limited-duration construction jobs for installations. Once you set a windmill or solar panel, it’s not going to create any new jobs.

It seems to me that the government is quite happy to create or save jobs in the pencil-pushing field, but when it comes to promoting employment by making stuff and extracting natural resources within our borders they seem to fall short (even if they have the prospect of being their precious union jobs.) We’ve lost something around 8 million jobs since the employment peak a couple years back, and while the energy industry might not be able to bring them all back we certainly can make a dent in the number.

That is the story which needs to be reported. Spread the word.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.