In response to significantly lower oil and natural gas prices, America’s energy sector is retrenching rapidly. The drilling rig count has dropped by more than 50 percent over the past year, while companies large and small have announced sizeable layoffs and cuts in their capital budgets for 2015 and 2016. Nonetheless, several states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio, are considering imposing or hiking production taxes—called severance taxes—on oil and gas operators. These increases will be in neither the public’s nor the industry’s best interests
Author: Bud Weinstein
For the past several weeks, falling oil prices and a likely veto of the Keystone XL pipeline by President Barack Obama have been commanding the headlines. But something more significant has been lost in the commotion. Last year, the United States produced more oil and natural gas than any other country, allowing us to achieve virtual energy independence which has been an expressed goal of public policy since the 1970s. What’s more, American consumers are reaping a fiscal windfall as lower energy prices reduce the costs driving their cars and heating and powering their homes. Most American industries are benefiting as well, especially energy-intensive manufacturing companies that use oil and gas both as fuels and feed stocks.
Thanks mainly to the shale revolution, oil production in the U.S. hit a 28-year high last month while imports were at their lowest levels since 1995. Consequently, prices have fallen 15% since June, and Saudi Arabia has cut production by 400,000 barrels a day — providing further evidence that OPEC no longer has the power to set prices.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, my name is Bernard Weinstein and I am the Associate Director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and an adjunct professor of business economics at SMU’s Cox School of Business. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today.
Despite a slight contraction during the first quarter of this year, the American economy has been expanding slowly but steadily since the end of the “Great Recession.” And America’s newfound[…]