New Energy Institute Report Examines What America Would Look Like if the Energy Renaissance Never Happened

Press Release
September 22, 2016

Second Energy Accountability Series Report Quantifies Economic Impact of Energy Revolution

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The second report in the Energy Institute’s Energy Accountability Series finds that America’s economy would be much weaker today if certain politicians and special interest groups had gotten their way and oil and natural gas resources had not been developed.

The Energy Accountability Series takes a substantive look at what would happen if energy proposals from anti-energy production candidates and interest groups were actually adopted.  Inspired by the “Keep in the Ground Movement,” some candidates such as Hillary Clinton and their allies have pledged to “stop” fossil fuels and make hydraulic fracturing difficult, if not impossible.  This report, titled “What if America’s Energy Renaissance Had Not Actually Happened?,” uses data from 2009 through 2015 to imagine what the American economy would look like had the energy revolution not occurred.

The report found that, without the energy renaissance, America would have lost 4.3 million jobs and $548 billion in annual GDP.  Were it not for the growth and development of oil and natural gas, today’s electricity prices would be 31 percent higher, and motor fuels would cost 43 percent more. 

“The ‘Keep it in the Ground’ movement completely ignores the vast benefits to our nation’s economy that the energy renaissance has brought to us,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.  “For instance, lower electricity and fuel prices spurred a comeback in manufacturing that alone is responsible for nearly 400,000 jobs.  It costs consumers less to drive a car and heat their homes today.  And all the while, our nation has been decreasing its energy imports and lowering emissions.”

The report takes a closer look at four states that, in different ways, have realized some of the biggest benefits of expanded energy development.  It finds that Pennsylvania and Ohio would have lost $13 billion and nearly $10 billion in GDP, respectively. The report also includes an analysis of Texas, which would have lost over 675,000 jobs, and Wisconsin, which would have lost 46,000 jobs.  

“From Pennsylvania’s paper industry, to iron and steel in Ohio, to petrochemicals in Texas, to cheese manufacturing in Wisconsin, the energy renaissance has been responsible for the preservation and growth of industries across America,” said Harbert.  “This is not just about the oil and gas industry—this is about the investment that has taken place and would continue to take place in virtually every sector of the economy if we are able to take of advantage of our abundant, inexpensive energy supplies.”

The analysis also finds that very few jobs and very little growth would have been realized in other sectors had the renaissance not taken place.  In other words, it is thanks to a massive expansion in America’s oil and gas production that the U.S. has experienced job growth and economic expansion since 2009.

The Energy Institute’s report examines the oil and gas value chain impact, as well as the economic impact that has been spurred by lower energy prices.  The report breaks down benefits for both the residential and industrial sectors, and provides an in-depth examination of the sources of jobs.

The Energy Institute’s report utilizes publically available data on jobs and production levels and the IMPLAN macro-economic model.  A Technical Appendix to the report explains the methodology and sources of data.   


The mission of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy is to unify policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind a common sense energy strategy to help keep America secure, prosperous, and clean. Through policy development, education, and advocacy, the Institute is building support for meaningful action at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.