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In a recent Financial Times opinion piece, former deputy Treasury secretary Roger Altman paints an optimistic economic outlook for the United States. In particular he notes “the breathtaking increase in oil and gas production” and predicts that within five years “the oil gains alone could add more than one percentage point to annual GDP growth and up to three million jobs.”
For the past three years, overall domestic oil production has risen despite the drop in output from the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the 2010 drilling moratorium. And 2011 was the all-time record for natural gas production, thanks to hydraulic fracturing in the nation’s shale plays. So secretary Altman’s predictions may be right on and, if so, would go a long way toward helping the U.S. economy achieve a 4% growth rate.
But this will only happen if public policies are encouraging, rather than retarding, additional oil and gas production. Here are some suggestions for policymakers:
- Acknowledge that fossil fuels will remain the primary energy sources for the foreseeable future;
- Remove unreasonable restrictions on domestic oil and gas development, especially on outer-continental shelf, Federal lands, and Alaska;
- Rein in subsidies for renewables in order to subject them to the market test;
- Promote the export of domestic energy, especially natural gas;
- Avoid tax discrimination on the oil and gas industry;
- Approve and expedite construction of Keystone XL;
- Leave regulation of hydraulic fracturing to the individual states.
Bernard L. Weinstein is Associate Director of the Maguire Energy Institute and an Adjunct Professor of Business Economics in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. He has taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the State University of New York, the University of Texas at Dallas, and the University of North Texas. He has authored or co-authored numerous books, monographs, and articles on the subjects of economic development, energy security, public policy, and taxation. His work has appeared in professional journals as well as the popular press. He earned an A.B. degree from Dartmouth College and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University.Full Bio
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