Another Energy Lie: Vitter Falsely Claims 271,000 Oil And Gas Jobs Lost Under Obama’s Green Economy Plan

We were quite surprised to see a Center for American Progress report being cited on the Senate floor by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) yesterday. Unfortunately, what he said was just another in a string of “fuzzy math” and distortions defending the broken energy status quo and push for more of the same failed Bush-Cheney energy policies that caused the average family’s spending on gasoline end electricity to skyrocket by more than $1,100 per year.

Vitter said:

“According a preliminary estimate based on the Center for American Progress data, 271,000 oil and gas jobs would be destroyed annually by the administration’s proposed new taxes and fees on energy.”

Watch it:

This is a totally fabricated distortion of our 2008 report, “Green Recovery: A New Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy.”


We wondered where Vitter got it — it turns out this talking point has been circulating for some time, appearing in a document put out by the American Petroleum Institute, in a messaging memo from the oil-backed group Freedom Works, and on a set of talking points hosted on ConocoPhillips’ web site.

The point is a complete distortion of our data (nothing new for conservatives when it comes to energy policy). Our “Green Recovery” report shows that a two-year $100 billion federal investment in a green recovery program, including investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, would create approximately 2 million jobs. The same amount of money invested in the oil industry would create 542,000 jobs over two years or…271,000 per year.

Apparently, they’ve taken this to mean that President Obama’s energy plan would cost 271,000 lost oil and gas jobs every year, which is simply not what the report says.

This was an analysis of two alternative stimulus plans, one focused on greening the economy, and one focused on boosting the oil industry. The report found that greening the economy creates far more jobs (four times as many) than plowing the same amount of federal money into oil.

Now, to be fair, as the United States shifts off of oil and fossil fuels in the years ahead, there will necessarily be fewer jobs created in the dirty energy, oil & gas extraction and petroleum refining industries, even as more jobs are created in the renewable energy industry, efficiency improvements, and infrastructure upgrades. What is true, however, is that this shift will yield a major net expansion in employment — about 1.2 million more jobs for every $100 billion shift in spending out of fossil fuels and into clean energy.


This job expansion will cover the full range of job categories and every region of the country. This major expansion in employment will result because renewable energy and efficiency improvements are more labor intensive, and substitute domestic spending for imported energy.

If the beneficiaries of the dirty energy status quo and their allies in Congress like Senator Vitter want to defend the interests of the oil & gas industries in order to block the greening of our economy, prevent the creation of millions of new jobs, continue with more of the same Bush-Cheney energy policies that have kept America dependent on oil, and accelerate catastrophic climate change, that’s their right.

Just don’t distort our research in order to do it.


Center for American Progress senior fellows Bracken Hendricks and Andrew Light describe the Vitter-Big Oil claim as a “gross distortion”:

This flagrant abuse of our analysis would be comical, if it weren’t intentionally being used to generate public fear on a matter of such grave national importance — so much for the American Petroleum Institute’s “truth” primer.

“It’s simply wrong to resort to such tactics,” Hendricks and Light conclude, “as we try to rebuild our economy and address the serious problem that threatens our daily lives and our children’s future.”