American Petroleum Institute economist discusses oil, energy consumption

Amber Hovey

It’s not often one might hear someone say, “Washington thinks oil companies are owned by space aliens.” But John Felmy, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute, said just that in a lecture Tuesday night.

Felmy’s lecture addressed the American Petroleum Institute’s importance and the government’s “misunderstanding of” the oil and natural gas industry in the United States. Felmy is responsible for economic, statistical and policy analysis at API.  

There are 9.2 million jobs supported by the oil and natural gas industry directly and indirectly, Felmy said.

The key topic in Felmy’s discussion was the use of the United States’ oil and natural resources as a way to create jobs, government revenue and energy independence.

More than 1.4 million jobs and more than $800 billion can be generated by increasing the development of oil and natural gas in the U.S., Felmy said.

Felmy contributed global oil prices to many factors, including global economic growth and exchange rates and inflation.

China is currently buying more cars than America — leading to an increased demand for oil, Felmy said. In addition, Felmy said India is moving into an industrial phase, placing it right behind China in the growing use of oil.

Thiry-eight percent of America’s energy consumption comes from oil, while 25 percent come from natural gas.

However, vast amounts of oil and natural gas resources in the U.S. have been made unavailable through environmental laws.

“[The United States] need[s] to figure out if we want to continue economy inbalance between the U.S. and the rest of the world or exploit our own resources,” said Barbara Hill, lecturer of geological and atmospheric sciences.

Felmy spent 11 years forecasting the oil and energy industry for Data Resources, Inc., under McGraw-Hill and served as director at Princeton Energy Research before joining API. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in economics from the University of Maryland.

Felmy’s lecture, “Energizing America: Facts for Addressing Energy Policy” is part of the Live Green! Sustainability Series.