- - Friday, March 28, 2014


America’s future and our continued pre-eminence in the world depend on how we handle our energy resources. House Speaker John A. Boehner made this observation recently and he is absolutely right.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s conduct in Ukraine and Crimea and his heavy-handed attitude toward a Western Europe dependent on Russian natural gas frame the issue. We must relax trade regulations on natural gas and start shipping worldwide to undercut Russia’s market and political power in Eurasia.

U.S. energy resources and development should be the central focus of our national strategy to restore America, as well. All Americans have a common asset that can change our future: fossil-fuel energy in the form of natural gas, oil and coal.

We must handle these assets, as our forefathers did by making America’s abundant natural resources available for the benefit of our people, as we did through homesteading, land grant colleges and railroad rights-of-way during the early development of the nation.

Because America’s future depends so substantially on how we handle our energy riches, we must constrain the programs and policies that would stand in our way. If we do this right, here is what we can promise our citizens and their families:

Lower home-heating costs, lower gasoline prices, reduced prices for everyday products made with petrochemicals (virtually everything we use), more well-paying jobs by bringing industry and manufacturing back to America through low-cost energy, ending subsidies for wasteful and costly “renewable” energy sources, ending all carbon-fuel constraints and policies based on global-warming theories and assumptions. As a result, individuals and families can have better incomes and well-being.

The real nirvana for America’s future would be to open up federal lands (huge portions of Western states) to development and exploitation as our nation did in the first half of the 19th century for lands east of the Mississippi.

The resulting energy development would increase royalties and lease revenues to meet America’s current major challenges: Paying off the national debt for our children and grandchildren, seeding the privatization of Social Security personal savings and investment accounts for future generations, and addressing the unfunded liabilities of Medicare and public-employee pensions.

Development of our energy resources would be the beginning of a resurgence in the traditional America we have known. Our adversary on this front is not Moscow, Beijing or Tehran, but U.S. and Western European leftists, led by President Obama and the mindless climate-change, silk-stocking so-called “progressives.”

Climate change for them is not a policy issue, but a religious commitment without factual, substantive or even mystical premises. It is their “holy grail,” which stands athwart a resurgence of America’s resource development for the benefit of our nation and all our people.

Resistance to proper energy development is rampant throughout the federal bureaucracy as well, because we have created runaway federal fiefdoms populated with enemies of national-resource development. These include the environmental extremists who have penetrated the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, etc., and who operate in league with the National Resources Defense Council and the other alphabet-soup environmental groups.

Unfortunately, we taxpayers support many of these groups with federal funding, which enables them to stymie the entrepreneurs who actually create the wealth of our nation. They use “sue-and-settle” agreements between environmental soul mates in government and the private sector to block development of natural resources for the benefit of all our citizens.

The energy battle puts in sharp perspective a fundamental, underlying and now gargantuan problem: Congress’ delegation of law- and rule-making authority to executive agencies. We must end this regulatory nightmare, which is destroying the separation of powers between Congress and the president.

Congress must restore and jealously guard its lawmaking authority by passing the REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act), which would require any major regulatory action to be approved by the House and Senate and signed by the president before it can take effect. Combine that with a regulatory sunset law that would suspend all current federal regulations after five years, requiring them all to be reissued subject to the REINS Act. This would completely solve the problem.

Bottom line: Energy development and trade can help drive soaring economic growth. Such expansion would rapidly increase the size of the economy relative to the government, and accommodate tax-rate reductions that further skyrocket growth, and “rightsize” government relative to gross domestic product. This would maximize economic growth and the well-being of all our citizens.

Lewis K. Uhler is the founder and president of the National Tax Limitation Committee and the National Tax Limitation Foundation. Peter Ferrara is senior policy adviser on entitlement reform and the budget for the National Tax Limitation Foundation.

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