Obama Administration take note: Quebec decides to develop its natural resources

by Myron Ebell on May 10, 2011

in Blog, Features, Politics

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Quebec, long an economic basket case kept afloat by Canada’s federal government, has decided to open up its northern interior to resource development.  Quebec Premier Jean Charest announced on Monday an ambitious 25-year “Plan Nord” to build highways, airports, and other infrastructure so that the area can be developed.

According to Montreal’s Gazette, “Investments in energy development, mining, forestry, transportation, and tourism in the 1.2-million-square-kilometre region – twice the size of France – will create 20,000 jobs a year, generating $162 billion in growth and tax revenues of $14 billion.”   Large parts of northern Quebec are heavily forested, and there are major deposits of iron, nickel, gold, platinum, cobalt, zinc, vanadium, and rare earths.

The Obama Administration should follow Quebec’s good example.  The Department of the Interior and the U. S. Forest Service (an agency of the U. S. Department of Agriculture) control nearly 30% of the land in the United States, most of it in the West and Alaska, plus the Outer Continental Shelf.  Federal lands and offshore areas contain colossal reserves of energy and minerals plus the most productive forests in the world.  But the Obama Administration is locking up more and more federal lands and offshore areas in order to prevent oil and gas production, hardrock mining, and timber production.  And they’re trying to block coal mining in Appalachia by inventing new pollutants to be regulated.

Given the federal government’s looming insolvency, only environmental pressure groups could think that this resources lockup is good public policy.  At least the  House of Representatives, led by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, is trying to force the Obama Administration to increase oil and natural gas production in federal offshore areas.  Last week, the House passed the first of three offshore bills and is going to vote on the other two this week.

H. R. 1229, 1230, and 1231, if enacted, would increase U. S. oil production by several million barrels a day and thereby reduce our trade deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars and create hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs.  Moreover, unlike the clean energy economy and green jobs that President Obama keeps promoting, increasing oil production in the Outer Continental Shelf does not require taxpayer-funded subsidies.  Instead, oil companies pay billions of dollars at competitive auctions for the right to drill in federal waters and then pay royalties on every barrel of oil produced.

The semi-socialist government of Quebec gets it; the House of Representatives gets it; but unfortunately President Obama and his administration do not get it.  They insist on living in a fantasy land where federal spending rather than natural resource production creates economic activity.

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