It’s difficult to overstate just how much President Obama owes to the shale oil-and-gas boom that incidentally took off concurrent with his White House tenure, but here are just a few bullet points from a recent Manhattan Institute report by Mark Mills that start to paint a picture:

-Overall U.S. employment has yet to return to its prerecession level, but the number of oil & gas jobs has grown 40 percent since then.

-In the 10 states at the epicenter of oil & gas growth, overall statewide employment gains have greatly outpaced the national average. …

-The shale oil & gas revolution has been the nation’s biggest single creator of solid, middle-class jobs—throughout the economy, from construction to services to information technology.

Chart: Growth in oil and gas employment outpaces the rest of the economy

In a nutshell, the oil and gas sector is one of the biggest factors keeping this otherwise piddling “recovery” afloat. President Obama should be thanking his lucky stars that most of the industry’s success has happened, not because of his policies, but in spite of them, and helped to mask just how weak most of his economic policies really are.

Policies, like, oh — the virtual lockdown on offshore drilling through which his Department of Interior has insisted on preventing us from taking still better advantage of our abundant energy resources. Coastal states are clamoring for permission to do more and create the best possible conditions for the sort of job- and wealth-creation that’s been going down in shale states, and I suppose it’s good news that Interior is finally showing signs of amenability to that endgame. You know, at some nebulous point in the future. Via The Hill:

The Interior Department on Thursday released an environmental impact review that lays out safeguards for contractors that conduct seismic surveys to test Atlantic waters for potential energy sources.

If the process continues without delay, the release of the environmental review would set Interior on a five-year planning process that would open up the Atlantic to development for 2017 and 2022.

“With this underway the secretary of Interior will be able to make a judgment about when to schedule any potential lease sales,” for oil and gas or renewable energy companies, an Interior official said Thursday. …

Geological contractors must submit applications for permits to conduct tests. There are currently nine contractors who have submitted applications to Interior on behalf of companies for air gun testing, the department said, which are likely for oil and gas development.

Which is nice, I suppose, but it would have been nicer if they had been doing/prioritizing this kind of thing all along, no?