Approximately 75,000 jobs were created in the oil and gas sector under the Obama Administration between 2009 to 2011, according to analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s roughly 69,000 more jobs than would be created by construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The figures, reviewed by the Center for American Progress, show that overall employment in oil and gas (extraction, field support, pipeline construction and transportation, and petroleum refineries) increased by 13% in the last two years.
The figures do not include categories such as gasoline stations, fuel dealers, asphalt paving, or lubrication production.
This strong increase in American fossil fuel jobs contradicts the arguments made by supporters of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, who have attacked the Obama Administration for denying the initial permit for the pipeline due to environmental concerns.
The oil and gas industry claims that Keystone XL will create up to 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. But more careful research of those jobs claims — analysis that is backed up by the State Department, Cornell University and TransCanada, the company building the pipeline — has shown that the number is closer to 6,000 jobs.
Armed with these inflated figures (which are still about 55,000 less than jobs created in the last two years), Keystone XL supporters have argued that the tar sands pipeline will be a panacea for job creation in America. In response to today’s news that the Obama Administration would reject the Keystone XL permit and ask TransCanada to file for another, Keystone supporters lined up to lambaste the President.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donahue said it proves “that creating jobs is not a high priority for this administration.”
And Republican Presidential front-runner Mitt Romney laid it on thick: “If Americans want to understand why unemployment in the United States has been stuck above 8 percent for the longest stretch since the Great Depression, decisions like this one are the place to begin.”
But here’s the deep, dirty little secret not mentioned by fossil fuel champions who falsely claim the Administration is killing oil and gas jobs: Since Obama took office, oil production has increased substantially — with more drilling rigs being deployed in America today than at any time since the mid 1980′s.
This increase in production has already resulted in 12 times the jobs that would be created to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Do you hear any mention of that from political candidates or the fossil fuel lobby? Absolutely not. And you never will.
These jobs figures prove once again that no matter how aggressively this Administration promotes oil and gas — alienating the environmental base in the process — political opponents will attack Obama in any way they can.
You can find the BLS figures here.
Zach Rybarczyk and Daniel J. Weiss contributed to this report.