Veterans Energize The Energy Industry

Every day, roughly 400 veterans receive honorable discharges and return to civilian life.

Fortunately for them, they’re entering the best job market for former servicemen and women in recent memory. Veteran unemployment just hit an 18-year low, thanks in large part to America’s booming energy industry. Oil and natural gas companies already employ nearly 200,000 veterans. And they’ll hire tens of thousands more in the coming years, as long as politicians and radical environmentalists don’t impede their mission to provide cheap, reliable energy.

America’s energy companies are producing record levels of oil and natural gas.

The United States pumps nearly 12 million barrels of oil a day — the highest level in almost 50 years and considerably more than any other country. Crude oil production has doubled in the past decade.

This production surge didn’t happen by chance. America has always had plentiful energy reserves, but they weren’t easily accessible until companies perfected “fracking,” the drilling technology used to extract oil and gas from shale rock formations buried deep inside the earth.

Fracking has created millions of jobs — and those positions are disproportionately filled by veterans. Veterans make up 7 percent of the total U.S. workforce, but they account for roughly 11 percent of energy industry employees.

The industry supports over 10 million jobs in total. And according to the Chamber of Commerce, fracking will create an additional 3.5 million jobs by 2035.

Through programs like the Veterans Energy Pipeline, oil and gas companies actively recruit veterans for careers that leverage their military experiences. Companies prize veterans’ work ethic, attention to detail, poise in stressful environments, and technical expertise.

These veterans receive excellent wages and benefits. The average salary in the oil and gas industry is over $100,000 a year.

A strong American energy sector does more than just put veterans to work — it keeps troops from having to fight never-ending wars in the Middle East to stabilize global energy markets. For decades, oil has been a major cause of military conflict. Since 1973, up to 50 percent of all global wars have been linked to disputes over oil. If we continue to tap into domestic energy resources, the likelihood that we will have to send troops abroad in the future decreases.

Unfortunately, green activists are dead set on halting America’s energy renaissance — even while lamenting that U.S. wars are often brought about by oil shortages.

Last February, activists successfully lobbied Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to halt the construction of a new oil pipeline. This much-needed project would have created 8,600 American jobs and generated more than $330 million in wages for workers.

Last year, activist group Colorado Rising gathered signatures for a ballot measure that would have banned oil and gas drilling throughout much of the state. Fortunately, Colorado voters defeated the measure, which would have eliminated close to 150,000 jobs.

The next time these activists want to raise energy prices and block jobs, tell them “You first.” Let them stop driving cars, flying in planes, and using computers and cell phones. Once they do that for a few years, maybe we will listen. Until then, let’s keep energy prices low and our veterans gainfully employed.

Michael James Barton is the Founder of Hyatt Solutions and speaks around the country on energy and energy security matters. He previously served as the deputy director of Middle East policy at the Pentagon. This piece originally ran in InsideSources.

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