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Energy Industry, Labor Partner for More Supply Access, Jobs

June 22, 2009
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The American Petroleum Institute (API) and 15 U.S. labor unions last week unveiled their joint Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee, which plans to lobby Congress for more access to domestic reserves, which in turn could create more jobs in the energy industry.

API President Jack Gerard, industry representatives and the presidents of 15 unions announced the committee's creation on Wednesday. Gerard and Mark H. Ayers, president of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, said they wanted to promote "innovative and affordable access" to the nation's energy supplies.

Devon Energy Corp. CEO J. Larry Nichols, Marathon Oil Corp. CEO Clarence Cazalot and ExxonMobil Corp. Senior Vice President Michael T. Dolan also participated in the agreement's signing ceremony.

The U.S. oil and gas industry employs an estimated 1.8 million people and supports another four million U.S. workers, according to the API. However, the committee is the first joint effort between the energy industry and labor unions to promote domestic job growth.

Increased U.S. exploration could add 160,000 U.S. jobs and add $1.7 trillion in government revenues from royalties and leases through 2030, API estimated.

Creating jobs across a broad spectrum of the energy industry is key, said Nichols.

"By working together, we can protect and promote job growth and continue to be a constructive economic force for the nation," the Devon chief said. "Our partnership signals an unshakable confidence in our nation and its ability to recover from the current recession. We want the country to have the energy it needs to create jobs for future generations of working Americans."

Ayers said the committee would "remind the Congress" that oil and natural gas "should remain part of the U.S. energy portfolio."

Efforts would to be launched to identify skills training needed for construction and maintenance jobs in the energy industry. In addition, the group plans a communication effort to educate the public about how legislation could restrict exploration or hinder processing, refining and marketing for U.S. oil and natural gas products.

Coalitions also would be considered with "like-minded organizations," said Gerard, to "drive job growth and address long-term challenges, such as increasing access, promoting pro-job growth tax policies, promoting energy security and rationally addressing climate change."

Eight trustees, divided evenly between members of the energy industry and the labor unions, would make up the committee. The members would set the agenda and priorities.

Other unions joining the group include the International Union of Operating Engineers; the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

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