Overlooking completely the implications
- that colleges should be guiding students to the most lucrative careers
- that research grants for improving petroleum processing are non-existent
- that research grants for alternative energy research are much more available
It's only going to get higher.
Whether or not the environmental movement is controlling this, that or the other thing, the petroleum industry is not going to go away anytime soon. While alternatives exist, they are nowhere near effective enough to replace the petroleum we are using, in large part because the magnitude of the world's energy needs is almost incomprehensibly large. You can put a number on it with a huge row of zeros, and as technical people we can say yes, that is a large number, but it is too large to really have a feel for what it means. So consider this anecdote instead: Drilling offshore oil wells is much more expensive than on land. Everything is far more difficult, the equipment is constantly corroding in the salt water. The ships used to drill the wells rent for $1 million a day and it can take a week or more to complete one well. Yet no oil company (independent or national) wants to stop making the investments. "Drill baby! Drill" is the battle cry.
Since the petroleum industry is not disappearing anytime soon and fewer people are apparently looking at petroleum engineering as a career, it makes it pretty easy to see that salaries are only going to go up. There is no choice. The industry needs the people and they can pay more to get them (and pass the costs onto you!).
I'm not opposing research into alternatives at all. At some point, they will play a critical role, but not yet, not any time soon.