Over the years, many members of the energy industry have hung up their hard hats and headed to Washington. Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, now the U.S. Secretary of State, is just the latest example.
It makes perfect sense to bring business leadership, perspective and expertise into the halls of government. In many areas—whether energy, technology, healthcare or another sector—career politicians often lack the knowledge and experience needed to make informed decisions on policy issues impacting specific industries. This is why, for example, doctors who become members of Congress play such an important role in shaping healthcare policies, just as military veterans elected to office lead on national defense.
Here’s another example from our industry: Before Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper entered government, he was a petroleum geologist. He understands our industry and has taken a sensible, balanced approach to energy policies.
We Can All Be Citizen Leaders on Energy
Most of us, of course, have no desire—or stomach—to leave the energy industry for politics. But we can all play a critical role in shaping energy policies by sharing our expertise and raising our voices. An effective way of doing this is by joining Energy Nation, the American Petroleum Institute’s energy employee advocacy program. Energy Nation understands that the best advocates for our industry are its own members, and the program aims to make sure we have a seat at the table when it comes to determining policies affecting what we do.
Elected officials often don’t know the details of an industry’s history, operations or values. This is especially true in our line of work. But the best government leaders are good listeners. They want to hear from voters — and from experts in their communities, including industry professionals. We all have the opportunity to become advisors to elected officials on issues impacting our operations and success.
To take it a step further, energy employees might consider engaging in advocacy to be a worthwhile responsibility. Energy is too important to our nation’s economy, security and way of life for us to stand silently by while government adopts misguided regulations and policies. It’s worth remembering, too, that elected officials constantly hear from activists opposing oil and natural gas.
We Are Energy Proud
When we advocate for sensible energy policies, we also can demonstrate our pride in the industry. We need to defend our industry — but we can be proactive about the work we do. We have a good story to tell with many great messages to share, including:
● Energy drives economic growth and supports good jobs. The oil and natural gas industry supports more than 10 million American jobs — and we’ll be adding an estimated 1.3 million jobs by 2030.
● Our industry supports environmental progress. The expanded use of American natural gas has reduced our nation’s carbon emissions to 25-year lows. Reliable, flexible natural gas also makes solar and wind energy possible.
● American energy strengthens our security. Our nation is less dependent on foreign sources of energy because of increased production of American oil and natural gas. We are more secure by providing most of our own energy.
It’s easy to be an energy advocate when you participate in Energy Nation. Right now, Energy Nation is running its Energy Proud campaign to build our industry’s advocacy strength and train employees to become advocacy leaders. Every industry employee should step forward and become a trusted voice on energy with their local, state and national elected officials.
To learn more about Energy Nation and its mission, visit www.energynation.org.