Report: ‘Keep It in the Ground’ Policy Would Cost Billions, 380,000 Jobs

Published October 4, 2016

A recent report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, estimates if the United States adopts a “Keep It in the Ground” (KG) policy—advocated by major environmental groups  wishing to end the development of fossil fuels on federal holdings—the U.S. economy and government revenues would suffer greatly.

The report, titled What If … Energy Production Was Banned on Federal Lands and Waters?, projects up to 25 percent of U.S. oil, gas, and coal production would be abruptly stopped if KG is implemented.

Among the potential consequences of such a policy are federal and state governments would lose an estimated $11.3 billion per year in royalties and rental fees. The report also estimates the economy would lose 380,000 jobs, and the authors say as much as $70 billion per year of gross domestic product could be threatened.

Large Economic Effects

Gary Stone, the vice president of engineering at Five States Energy Capital, says the oil industry isn’t the only one that would be harmed by a KG policy.

“It is not just the oil industry jobs, but the tentacles that reach out to all the different industries that are involved. Let’s take Louisiana and the Texas-Gulf Coast area … there are so many businesses that are focused on something to do with  off-shore oil production. It affects hotels, retail stores, the food industry, and transportation.”

Kathleen Hartnett White, director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, says federal lands should be put to “productive use.”

“Oil and gas production has in part been scaled back significantly over the last 40 years in response to laws like the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act,” said Hartnett White. “Putting federal lands to productive use is important, and the energy sector has shown it knows how to operate in a way that won’t harm wildlife or critical ecological resources.

“The [KG] movement is not about protecting the environment; it’s about ending fossil-fuel use,” said Hartnett White.

Michael McGrady ([email protected]writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.


What If: Energy Production was Banned on Federal Lands and Waters?, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, August 2016: