USA Today had a front page story this week that provides valuable perspective on the dramatic economic impact unleashed by the development of unconventional oil and gas across the country. The headline is clear enough: “Wealth rises in USA’s heartland.” The story points out that energy production “is driving up income so fast in a few hundred small towns and rural areas that it’s shifting prosperity to the nation’s heartland.”
The U.S. Senate can give American workers and manufacturers a big boost – and at the same time support free trade and international cooperation – by following the lead of the House of Representatives and passing Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia. Doing so will help fully open the world’s ninth-largest economy to U.S. exporters. But a failure to act will keep U.S. manufacturers at a significant disadvantage compared to international competitors.
Some in Washington are once more claiming the petroleum industry is sitting on idle leases. The charge was made recently during a discussion of energy issues in one of the presidential debates. And now several members of Congress are circulating a report to buttress their claim that oil companies – which have paid millions to the federal government to secure leases for exploration and production – are somehow refusing to develop those leases at the same time we are encouraging government authorities to lease more federal offshore lands.
American politicians often say we should pursue the goal of “energy independence.” But it’s worth asking if achieving what that slogan implies is even possible. And if so, what would “energy independence” actually look like? Give credit to NPR’s Morning Edition for asking just those questions recently. In a series of penetrating segments, NPR exposed the problems with energy independence – and in the process helped listeners better understand what our real energy policy goals should be.