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Jack Welch: Energy deregulation will be ‘bigger than the Internet’

Jack Welch is making headlines again, this time saying that removing regulatory barriers to the oil and natural gas boom will be “bigger than the Internet” for the economy.

“The regulatory wall is a huge deal. It’s equal in my opinion to what happens in the marketplace as the fiscal cliff,” Welch told CNBC. “The regulatory wall is obviously right in front of you.”

“An energy rich America… it will be bigger than the Internet was, and we’re only in the first inning,” Welch said. “It is the oxygen that makes an economy breath.”

According to Welch, removing regulatory barriers to the oil and natural gas boom is just as important as addressing the coming fiscal cliff problem at the end of this year.

“We have a chance in this country to make this the American century,” Welch continued. “This gas thing is huge. The gas that we have found is in the first inning — it’s like the Internet in 1990.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Citigroup economists estimated that increased domestic oil and gas production, would create as many as 3.6 million new jobs by 2020 and increase economic output by more than three percent.

Furthermore, an IHS Global Insights study found that jobs created by unconventional oil and gas production “tend to be high quality and high paying, given the technologically innovative nature of unconventional oil and gas activity” and generate more than $61 billion in revenues for federal and state governments this year alone.

States like Pennsylvania and West Virginia have welcomed increased natural gas and oil exploration through d horizontal drilling and have greatly benefited in terms of jobs — 240,000 jobs related to oil and natural gas extraction, say state officials.

Welch also pointed out that federal lands need to be opened up for oil and gas exploration.

The United States is on track this year to be the most energy independent it has been since 1990, but oil and gas production on federal lands has fallen.

“Leasing and permitting on federal lands have plummeted under Obama’s watch,” said Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, in a statement. “Under this administration, the leasing rate has slowed by about half, and the total amount of federal acres leased has fallen by 18 percent.”

The Energy Information Administration reported that crude oil sales of production from Federal and Indian lands by about 14 percent from 2010 to 2011 — mainly due to the Obama Administration’s offshore drilling moratorium. The Congressional Research Service found that 96 percent of the increase in oil production from 2007 to 2012 was produced on private and state lands.

Natural gas production on state and private lands increased by 28 percent between 2009 and 2011, but natural gas production fell by 27 percent on federal lands over that same time period.

“Half a decade ago, it was assumed that the U.S. would become a large importer of liquefied natural gas; now the domestic natural gas market is oversupplied, thanks to the ability to produce shale gas through hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies,” writes Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS, in the Wall Street Journal.

Welch also said he believes that a Romney administration would be better suited to handle the regulatory wall, the fiscal cliff and have a more positive jobs picture’ due to his record of bipartisanship and his business experience.

“This is the first inning of the great American century. Unless we get whacked,” Welch added. “We can’t have Lisa Jackson deciding what our energy policy is going to be. We just can’t do it.”

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