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The Energy Logjam: Removing Regulatory Obstacles to Fuel the Economy

September 11, 2013
By Bernard L. Weinstein and Nicholas Saliba
During a difficult economic period, energy has been a bright spot – but energy could help America’s economy even more.

Addressing America's energy challenges means asking first: What works? Next we can ask: how can this success replicate itself? Oil and gas extraction has been one of the few industries recording strong output and employment growth in recent years. What can other areas learn from oil and gas?

America is a country of multiple jurisdictions: local, state, and federal. This system of competitive federalism allows us to watch natural experiments. States with sounder rules have produced more jobs and experienced faster economic growth than states with more restrictive laws. The “states first” regulatory movement posits that states should set law on energy, not Washington.

Only states know, for example, their own individual regulatory needs: fracking in North Dakota is different from fracking in Pennsylvania. As the charts in this book will show, North Dakotans have fared much better than citizens of those states that have too many rules. Likewise, international comparison teaches us that nations with better regulation can grow faster than America has in the past.

It’s time to pursue policies and regulations that permit the U.S. to take full advantage of its opportunities.