Taxing the oil and gas industries is a roadblock to economic stability
I believe that we Tennesseans are forward-looking, innovative people. Just think of all the great marvels that came from our state: country music, the typewriter ribbon, the touch-screen monitor, miniature golf and nuclear research. Unfortunately, with a state unemployment rate averaging 10 percent, Tennesseans are lacking opportunities to utilize their ingenuity. President Barack Obama has said jobs are his top priority — well then, he can start creating them through an industry that already supports more than 9 million American workers: the U.S. oil and natural gas industry. Exploration and production of untapped domestic oil and natural gas resources would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and generate more than $1.7 trillion in revenue. That's money desperately needed to help meet Tennessee's $1 billion budget shortfall, build roads and schools in our cities and fund health-care initiatives. People get it.
Here in the Volunteer State, we can begin by expanding and upgrading projects associated with Canadian oil sands. A study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates that by allowing our neighbors to the north develop their rich and abundant resources, Tennessee could gain 7,000 new indirect and direct jobs — including well-paying jobs in refining — between 2011 and 2015. The study also projects that we'll see an added economic value of $598 million by 2015.
President Obama's recent decision to allow offshore energy development in the Outer Continental Shelf moves Tennesseans an inch closer toward those economic benefits, but we cannot afford to inch along. People understand this. In fact, 72 percent of registered voters are in favor of offshore drilling, according to a recent Rasmussen survey.
We want the president to take prompt action to ensure our state and nation will see recovery, while securing America's energy future and decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. His support for misguided policies, including cap and trade and $80 billion in tax increases on the U.S. oil and natural gas industry, are roadblocks to job growth and economic revival. These proposals would discourage investment and pass on added costs to consumers and businesses, while increasing our dependence on imported energy.The president has offered rhetoric on harnessing America's oil and natural gas resources to breathe life back into our state and national economies. I sincerely hope he takes swift, but wise, steps to make that happen. As I imagine all of the great innovations that have yet to be born in our state, I know that Tennesseans are eager to put their skills to work.
State Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, represents the 57th Legislative District and is chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force.