Guest Post: Oil Sands Development is Sound Small-Business Policy

Guest Post by Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Importing oil from Canadian oil sands represents a tremendous economic opportunity for the U.S., particularly for our nation’s small businesses. The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) – which works to promote small business growth and entrepreneurship – knows full well that continued production of Canadian oil sands will help stimulate our economy and encourage job growth here in the U.S.  A strong and vibrant small business sector is necessary to bring our economy back to robust job creation. High levels of entrepreneurship also mean more innovation and strengthened competitiveness.

First and foremost, the development of the Canadian oil sands means a wealth of new opportunities for U.S. small businesses in energy-related fields. Based on the most recent Census Bureau data, 99 percent of firms associated with oil and gas operations employ fewer than 500 workers, and 84 percent have fewer than 20 employees.  As for firms in the oil and gas pipeline construction industry, 95 percent employ fewer than 500 employees, and 61 percent have fewer than 20 workers. Capitalizing on the potential that’s locked within the Canadian oil sands isn’t just smart energy policy; it’s a sound small-business policy.

In addition, a number of American businesses manufacture the equipment and products that are used in Canada for oil production. These products include everything from engines made in Indiana to tires made in South Carolina. Increased production of the Canadian oil sands means more orders for production equipment, which means more American jobs.

The Keystone XL pipeline project – the cornerstone of our ability to fully benefit from Canadian oil exports – will also boost America’s energy and economic security by improving supply flexibility and decreasing our dependence on oil from turbulent areas, thus helping put critical downward pressure on gas prices.

Just how important are gas prices to American small business owners? According to a 2012 survey by TechnoMetrica for the SBE Council, 72 percent of small business owners said that higher gas prices have impacted their business, 41 percent said higher prices were affecting their plans to hire, and 22 percent said they have had to cut back on employee hours. Most significantly, 43 percent of these business owners agreed with the following statement: “My business will not survive if energy prices continue to remain high or increase further.”

From a macroeconomic perspective, production of the Canadian oil sands currently supports 80,000 jobs in the U.S., and has the potential to support 600,000 jobs by 2035, according to a 2011 study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI). Increased investment in Canadian oil sands production could also add an estimated $563 trillion to U.S. GDP between 2010 and 2035.

Given all of these positive economic outcomes, it’s no coincidence that Americans support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline by nearly a 2-1 margin. Nor is it surprising that more than 80 percent of Americans believe U.S. policies should support the use of oil from Canada’s oil sands.

Continued development of the Canadian oil sands will enhance the ability of American businesses to help the U.S. economy grow, which is why the SBE Council is standing behind efforts to make sure that these energy resources can continue to be converted into economic resources for the U.S.

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