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Tom Donohue: Shale Energy Is Powering Growth and Jobs

Shale energy — natural gas and oil extracted from rock formations — is a game changer for the American economy and our energy future. Why? Because the shale revolution is already driving tremendous job creation, energizing our sluggish economy and pumping greater revenues into government coffers. And shale can significantly strengthen our energy security and move us toward North American energy independence.

The proof is in the numbers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy sponsored a new report by IHS CERA, a leading independent global energy research firm. The resulting study is the first-ever comprehensive report on the positive economic impact of shale development — and its great promise for the future.

Tremendous job creation in shale energy production is one of the few bright spots in a bleak employment landscape. In the past few years, shale development has produced 1.75 million jobs. By 2020, shale and unconventional energy will be responsible for 2.5 million jobs; by 2030, 3 million; and by 2035, 3.5 million. And these shale-related jobs pay more than double the national average.

The shale industry is attracting massive amounts of investment, which fuels economic growth. Between now and 2035, $5.1 trillion is expected to be invested in shale development. The shale investment in 2012 alone will reach $87 billion, which in turn will create $238 billion in economic growth this year.

Shale development will also generate more than $2.5 trillion in government revenues, which can help drive down our deficits.

On top of the economic benefits, extracting shale resources will bring a level of stability — and security — to the U.S. energy supply that we couldn’t have anticipated even just a few years ago. New drilling techniques have unlocked gas and oil from shale formations that were previously not economically recoverable. The result is that we now have access to a 100-year supply of natural gas.

It has also led to a 25 percent increase in domestic oil production over the past four years. By 2020, oil production is expected to rise by 68 percent above 2008 levels. This will decrease America’s oil imports by 60 percent — that means we’ll keep an extra $200 billion a year here at home instead of buying foreign oil.

While shale is “the next big thing” in energy, energy is the next big thing in America. It’s our chance to restore our economy and regain our competitive lead in the world. We’ve got a once-in-a-generation opportunity to harness our own resources and secure our future. Let’s seize it. Click here for more information.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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