NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Unleashing the North American Energy Colossus

July 24, 2012

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, says Mark P. Mills, an adjunct fellow with the Manhattan Institute.

It is time to appreciate the staggering potential economic and geopolitical benefits that facilitating the development of these resources can bring to the United States.

  • 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 trillion to $2 trillion in tax receipts to federal and local governments.
  • Such a policy would also create millions of jobs rippling throughout the economy.
  • While it would require substantial capital investment, essentially all of that would come from the private sector.

The underlying paradigms embedded in American energy policy and regulatory structures are anchored in the idea of shortages and import dependence. A complete reversal in thinking is needed to orient North America around hydrocarbon abundance -- and exports.

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 United States, 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.

Source: Mark P. Mills, "Unleashing the North American Energy Colossus: Hydrocarbons Can Fuel Growth and Prosperity," Manhattan Institute, July 2012.

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