Across the country, Americans voted for energy. Candidates from both sides of the aisle took note and recognized Americas potential to be an energy superpower. It was no different in Florida.
Surging domestic production is driving the economic recovery. The U.S. oil and natural gas industry now supports more than 9.8 million jobs. Energy is revitalizing the manufacturing sector and promoting greater security for the United States and our allies.
Innovations in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing were responsible for about 48 percent of U.S. oil production and shaved up to $0.94 per gallon from fuel prices in 2013.
In many races, both Republican and Democratic candidates have gone out of their way this year to embrace pro-energy policies to the point that its been almost impossible to tell whos wearing red or blue on the campaign trail. Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, who won comfortably with a 20 percent margin, has been a consistent proponent in his votes for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Florida Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo ran a successful congressional race in Miami campaigning strongly on pro-energy policies that include the Keystone XL Pipeline. These stances are consistent with the Florida Legislature, as well, whose members that passed a memorial last session urging the president to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline fared well in their races.
Also in Florida -- where the natural gas industry contributes $23.2 billion to the economy and school districts saved over $47.2 million on energy last year (enough to employ over 680 teachers) -- Florida candidates efforts are especially notable. Especially considering that environmental groups spent more than $85 million this election to derail Americas domestic energy revolution. But voters overwhelmingly chose to support jobs, economic growth and security -- priorities consistently ranked as most important by American voters of all political persuasions.
Just ask Tom Steyer, who ran $12 million in advertisements throughout Florida this election year particularly targeting the defeat of Gov. Rick Scott. His stated mission for this election cycle was to elect anti-fossil fuel and anti-Keystone candidates.
Such candidates proved so hard to find that fundraising groups run by Steyer and other climate activists donated $2.4 million to re-elect Keystone supporter Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and $1.9 million to re-elect Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who is a vocal proponent of drilling in ANWR and the Arctic Ocean. Florida voters made it perfectly clear that pro-energy policies are critical to full economic recovery by re-electing Gov. Scott.
If the new Congress is serious about living up to their energy promises, they should waste no time approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. Supporting North American energy infrastructure, combined with greater domestic access and a few smart policy choices could give the U.S. the ability to be 100 percent self-sufficient in our liquid fuel needs in about a decade.
And by opening more production on federal lands, Congress could create 1 million American jobs and generate $127 billion in government revenue.
Its also past time to lift the 70s-era ban on crude exports, which makes no sense for a nation on track to surpass Saudi Arabia as the worlds leading oil producer in 2015. Lifting the obsolete ban could add up to 300,000 jobs to the economy and, according to a new Brookings Institute study, cut gas prices by 7 cents to 12 cents per gallon.
Likewise, speeding up the pace of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports could generate 452,000 jobs while helping our Eastern European allies break their dependence on Russian supplies. As the worlds leading natural gas producer, the economic and geopolitical benefits of winning the global LNG export race are ours to lose.
The American people have already given the House and Senate a clear mandate: create jobs, boost the economy and advance Americas energy security through common-sense energy policies.
Looking ahead to the presidential election in 2016, polling taken of Americans who voted yesterday across the country shows that 66 percent -- 55 percent Democrats, 82 percent Republicans and 55 percent Independents -- would be more likely to support a candidate who supports producing more oil and natural gas from here in the U.S.
API President and CEO Jack Gerard hosted a press call Wednesday to release the full polling results and discussed what this means for the new Congress. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require additional information or to speak with experts on a particular topic.
API and the Florida Petroleum Council is a nonpartisan organization and we dont pick parties. But we are committed to sharing the message that a vote for energy is a vote for Americas future.
David Mica is executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council.