For several years, both President Obama and Vice President Biden have been singing the praises of natural gas and hydraulic fracturing, claiming that the upcoming “cheap energy boom” would bring hundreds of thousands of jobs to work-hungry Americans.
The claim, which reached the most ears during the President’s 2012 State of the Union Address and was parroted throughout the campaign season, was that the new shale gas bonanza would bring 600,000 new jobs to America over the next decade. With job creation as a top campaign issue, this talking point resonated well with American voters.
And while the talking point was blindly reprinted by countless media outlets, the source has been traced back to the dirty energy industry itself. Specifically, a 2012 shale gas / fracking booster sheet produced by the American Petroleum Institute.
API, the oil and gas industry's chief lobbying front in Washington, successfully influenced the President’s administration to embrace fracking as part of the “all of the above” energy approach that the administration has pushed since Obama's first days in office.
From the president's 2012 State of the Union address: “We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years, and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy.”
Just this month, Vice President Joe Biden is quoted in Rolling Stone repeating the claim: “There are going to be 600,000 new jobs out there in the gas industry over the next 10 to 12 years.”
But the numbers within the claim don’t add up. And when the entire picture of the shale gas industry is taken into context, you see why.
The majority of those 600,000 jobs already exist, and job stats in the shale fields aren't matching their rosy forecast. There will not be 600,000 new jobs, even by the industry’s own admission.
As it turns out, the shale gas boom has actually been a bust for job creation. While it's true that 36,000 natural gas jobs were added around the country over the last 2 years, the industry wasn’t happy about the fact that the increased production drove down the price of natural gas, so the country is now on track to lose 72,000 natural gas jobs in the coming year.
Apparently the dirty energy industry forgot the most basic concept within macro economics: When supply goes up and demand goes down, prices plummet. And that’s exactly what has happened with shale gas in America right now.
It appears unlikely that many of those “600,000 jobs” will actually materialize in America, but that hasn’t stopped the President and Vice President from repeating the industry’s talking points, which is enough for them to be able to declare victory on this issue, while the American people are once again live with the fracking mess.