January 2015

PBPA President responds to President Obama’s State of the Union Address

January 21, 2015

We have your middle class economics right here, Mr. President

Amid all the empty threats and hollow promises inherent to any State of the Union address, President Obama said something significant in this year’s speech. Did you catch it?

“At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.”

“So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way.”

Booming energy production, expanding opportunity, middle class economics – these phrases are embodied in the economy of the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico. As the ancestral home of the American oil and gas industry and the root of its current renaissance, we know the numbers by heart. According to a recent Texas Tech University study (The Economic Impact of the Permian Basin’s Oil and Gas Industry), Midland, Texas residents have experienced an 89.6% rise in per capita personal income since 2005, and the industry generates more than $137 billion in economic output annually. In fact, the oil and gas industry is responsible for more than 500,000 high quality, high paying jobs in West Texas and New Mexico alone.

These aren’t the kind of jobs that just put food on the table. They are the kind of high quality jobs that allow families to buy homes, save for retirement, and put children through college. They’re the kind of jobs all Americans deserve. The Permian Basin is middle class economics at work.

Beyond the obvious economic benefits at home, domestic crude oil production impacts global geopolitics. By increasing our supply of domestic crude, we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil and continue to put pressure on our enemies abroad. Recent articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, and others have credited America’s increased contribution to global oil supplies with having a greater impact on the economies of Iran and Russia than any sanctions levied by the world community to date.

Astonishingly, we’ve managed to do all this with both hands tied behind our collective backs. The current hardships faced by the industry are numerous. Between the outdated and unnecessary ban on crude oil exports, relentless attacks from litigious out-of-state special interest groups, and new proposed Environmental Protect Agency regulations that would assert federal control over countless ditches and dry creek beds across the West, it’s a wonder we’re still in business at all.

Yet here we are, producing the oil that’s lowering gas prices for consumers and finally pulling the economy out of the doldrums of the past six years. Countless studies have shown that lifting the ban on crude oil exports will only add to that momentum – further lowering prices at the pump while we create jobs at home. A win-win by any measure.

As the President of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, representing 1000 mostly small family run businesses, I truly hope the President means what he said Tuesday night. I hope he lives up to his sentiment that “…at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances, and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot.” That’s all we’re asking for, a fair shot. We don’t need a handout, or a break, or a subsidy. All we need is a level playing field and we’ll keep doing what we’ve always done, powering the American economy and creating opportunities for American families.

“That’s what middle-class economics is — the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

Here in the Permian Basin we couldn’t agree more, Mr President.

Ben Shepperd


Permian Basin Petroleum Association

About the Permian Basin Petroleum Association

Founded in 1961, the Permian Basin Petroleum Association is the largest regional oil and natural gas association in the United States. The association includes approximately 1,000 member companies that produce oil and gas in the Permian Basin of west Texas and eastern New Mexico. The association’s mission is to provide safety education, legislative and regulatory involvement and support services for the petroleum industry to promote members’ effectiveness. More information is available at www.pbpa.info.