Jonah Goldberg

Just take a gander at North Dakota, where oil production is up 138 percent since 2008. The boom "has helped make its economy almost recession-proof," writes American Enterprise Institute economist Mark Perry. North Dakota's "jobless rate never exceeded 4.4 percent even during the Great Recession when the U.S. rate hit 10.1 percent." North Dakota, with a $1 billion surplus, and the lowest unemployment rate in the country, has more jobs today than it did when the recession started in 2007. Perversely, as AEI's Steve Hayward notes, if trends continue, North Dakota may well outproduce California and Alaska (it's already zoomed passed Oklahoma), not because California and Alaska are running out of oil, but because the feds keep it under lock and key.

All in all, the American Petroleum Institute believes we may have 100 billion barrels of untapped oil -- that's 10 million barrels a day for 30 years, or the equivalent of our total imports of foreign oil.

Meanwhile, it's quite possible that the United States could be the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, with an estimated 100-year supply of the stuff, and more being discovered every day.

But what about global warming? Well, even if you agree that climate change is a real problem, the simple fact is that we're stuck with fossil fuels for at least a generation longer, in part because "green energy" isn't ready for prime time. Moreover, the developing world will not significantly curb its emissions until they're developed.

President Obama is fond of saying that we need to look to China's example. They're allegedly leading the way on solar and wind power. Maybe that's true, though I think there's a lot of hype there. But, OK. What people leave out is that China is hardly curbing its fossil-fuel development.

Why can't America have a similar do-it-all strategy?

As part of a grand bargain, the president could, in his State of the Union address, propose quintupling the amount of money we spend doing basic research on alternative fuels, the revocation of subsidies for the oil and gas industry, and a hike in the gas tax to pay for that infrastructure bank he wants. Throw in a ban on mountaintop-removal coal mining while he's at it. All of this in exchange for creating good jobs here at home, lowering energy costs, reducing our reliance on foreign oil and cutting the deficit.

Sure, the base of the Democratic Party and the editorial board of the New York Times would scream bloody murder. But for a guy trying to get re-elected, that's a bonus.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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