Tillerson told the North America's Building Trade Unions during a conference in Washington "sound energy policies" like more natural gas exports could add as many as 452,000 new jobs for the U.S. market by 2035.
"Pro-growth energy policies can spur our economy by opening access to American resources, enabling investment and innovation, and by advancing energy and infrastructure projects that employ millions of Americans," he said in his Tuesday address.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have called for more oil and natural gas exports to increase U.S. economic leverage overseas.
On the domestic front, Tillerson said the energy sector accounts for $1.2 trillion of the U.S. economy, which he said is the equivalent of 8 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.
Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, said Monday, however, lifting a 1970s ban on U.S. crude oil exports could hurt some parts of the domestic energy sector.
"Lifting the ban would benefit oil companies that engage in oil exploration and production, but it would harm their refining operations that have to purchase crude at the market price," he said. "It also would hurt independent refiners that do not engage in oil exploration."
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