Jobs in the oil and gas industry are not going to disappear overnight. Yet it would seem that oil is a dirty word in the Obama administration. Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post looks at this bias in today’s column:

Considering the brutal recession, you’d expect the Obama administration to be obsessed with creating jobs. And so it is, say the president and his supporters. The trouble is that there’s one glaring exception to their claims: the oil and natural gas industries. The administration is biased against them — a bias that makes no sense on either economic or energy grounds. Almost everyone loves to hate the world’s Exxons, but promoting domestic drilling is simply common sense.

Contrary to popular wisdom, the United States still has huge oil and natural gas resources. The outer continental shelf (OCS), including parts that have been off-limits to drilling since the early 1980s, may contain much natural gas and 86 billion barrels of oil, about four times today’s “proven” U.S. reserves. The U.S. Geological Survey recently estimated that the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana may hold 3.65 billion barrels, more than 20 times a 1995 estimate. And there’s upward of 2 trillion barrels of oil shale, concentrated in Colorado. If only 800 billion barrels were recoverable, that would be triple Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves.

Now it is perhaps understandable that Obama thinks he can polish his environmental credentials by bashing the oil industry. It is an easy target, but also the cornerstone of the U.S. and global economies. Renewable energy will undoubtedly play an increasingly important role in meeting future U.S. energy needs, but in the meantime the U.S. economy remains dependent on fossil fuels, much of it from the most politically unstable regions of the world. This is not the time to be kicking the U.S. oil industry.