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Home>North American Energy Wealth

North American Energy Wealth


July 09, 2012

by Kenneth Green

For decades now, the energy-narrative of North America, particularly the United States has been one of energy scarcity. We’ve been told, repeatedly, that the U.S. has surpassed “peak oil,” and 6 years ago, people were so worried about natural gas supplies that we were talking about importing liquified natural gas from abroad (More on that here).

But the narrative of energy scarcity in North America is a fiction: We are not only energy-wealthy, we are energy-wealthy beyond most people’s comprehension. Energy policy analyst Mark Mills spells out the energy potential of North America in a new report published by the Manhattan Institute.

Some of the key findings of the report are:

  • The United States, Canada, and Mexico are awash in hydrocarbon resources: oil, natural gas, and coal. The total North American hydrocarbon resource base is more than four times greater than all the resources extant in the Middle East. And the United States alone is now the fastest-growing producer of oil and natural gas in the world.
  • An affirmative policy to expand extraction and export capabilities for all hydrocarbons over the next two decades could yield as much as $7 trillion of value to the North American economy, with $5 trillion of that accruing to the United States, including generating $1–$2 trillion in tax receipts to federal and local governments.
  • In collaboration with Canada and Mexico, the United States could—and should—forge a broad pro-development, pro-export policy to realize the benefits of our hydrocarbon resources. Such a policy could lead to North America becoming the largest supplier of fuel to the world by 2030. For the U.S., the single most effective policy change would be to emulate Canada’s solution for permitting major energy projects: create a one-portal, one-permit federal policy for all permits.

Of course, one could point out that U.S. energy policy, at least at the federal level, has gone in exactly the opposite direction in recent years, with production slowing on federal lands, and with a slowing of North American energy integration, rather than an acceleration of it - Keystone XL, anyone? One can only hope for change. 

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