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The government spends hundreds of millions to help 'build that' gas industry

September 25, 2012 - Mike Maneval
A much-repeated trope by critics of the Obama administration has been that President Barack Obama's July 13 assertion entrepreneurs and business owners do not act alone in creating successful enterprises - that they "didn't build that" all by themselves - is wrong and shows the president is deficient in understanding how the U.S. economy works.

Yet two recent stories - one an Associated Press report by Kevin Begos, the other by Sun-Gazette reporter Joe Stender - demonstrate both the pivotal role the federal government plays in creating economic opportunity and, subsequently, the argument it doesn't for the pathetic claptrap it is.

The AP article, published by the Sun-Gazette on Monday, details the decades-long efforts of the federal government to fund - to the tune of about $137 million directly - research into hydrofracturing technologies. Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy, Begos writes, worked in federally-owned and -operated labs to process drilling data. Military technology used to track submarines was refitted to map Shale formations. When tax breaks are added to the direct expenditures of tax dollars on natural gas and petroleum research, the federal government contributed $2.8 billion - billion, not million - to research to benefit the industries in 2010 alone.

And the federal government isn't done. As the Sun-Gazette reported four days before the AP report, the U.S. Department of Labor is spending $14.9 million in grants to Pennsylvania College of Technology to educate and train the future workforce for the gas industry. The federal government will spend millions more aiding other colleges across the region with similar job-training efforts related to the gas industry.

Both the decades of federally-funded research into hydrofracking and the millions spent now to aid Americans in pursuing careers with the now-blossoming industry are great ideas - great ideas for which the federal government deserves a share of the credit, regardless of whether it punctures the asinine myth of the self-reliant business tycoon.


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