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Oil, Gas Industry Could Soon See Drop in Jobs

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The oil and gas industry could see a loss of jobs if President Obama's budget proposal is approved. The oil and gas industry could see a loss of jobs if President Obama's budget proposal is approved.

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oil and gas jobs in Oklahoma could start to run dry if a particular measure in President Obama's budget proposal is approved, according to industry advocates.

"I know that oil and gas companies won't like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that's how we'll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries," President Obama said.

Oklahoma oil and gas producers like Pete Brown are worried. He said the tax breaks the President wants to repeal, like expensing intangible drilling costs and depreciating the value of oil and gas wells, will rob them of the capital they need to drill new wells.

"There'll either be an absolute stoppage of drilling or at the least, the very least, a 50 percent drop, a the very least, in drilling activity," Brown said.

Mike Terry and other oil and gas advocates went to Washington last week where they met with numerous lawmakers and attempted to clear up a common misperception of what this measure would do.

"When you attack the oil and gas industry, that hits Oklahoma right between the eyes," Terry said. "Most of them thought it was an attack on big oil. It's really not; it's an attack on the independents."

Terry said independents drill more than 90 percent of the wells in the country, and are responsible for more than 50,000 jobs in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma's Congressional delegation is united in opposing the measure because they believe it will kill many of those jobs.

"These marginal producers, the profit margin is very small, these are wells of 15 barrels or less, they're going to going out of business," Senator James M. Inhofe said.

Pete Brown said he's been through boom and bust, and understands the risks of the business, but he said this would really make it tough to succeed.

Supporters of the President's plan said the measure will ensure that all taxpayers get a fair return for the extraction of oil and gas resources on public lands, and will help move the country away from dependence on fossil fuels.

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