Friday, May 3, 2013

Energy and Infrastructure: The South Carolina Opportunity

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Energy and Infrastructure: The South Carolina Opportunity

Callista and I travelled this week to South Carolina, a state where we have spent considerable time over the past few years.

South Carolina was hit hard in the recession, and unemployment remains well over 8 percent. The state is currently in the middle of a debate about how to pay for overdue critical infrastructure projects like building the long-promised I-73 corridor through the poorest parts of the state, and deepening the Ports of Charleston and Georgetown for new mega-ships that will begin passing through the Panama Canal next year.

State officials say South Carolina will need to spend more than $48 billion dollars on transportation infrastructure in the next 20 years but it is far short of the resources to pay for them.

Some of those resources may be under the ocean just miles off South Carolina's shore. A study by the Southeast Energy Alliance estimates that with the same federal-state revenue sharing deal as Gulf Coast states receive for their offshore oil natural gas resources, South Carolina could reasonably expect royalties of $250 million a year.

In all likelihood, exploration would reveal even more resources than today's estimates predict -- just as in North Dakota, the Eagle Ford shale in Texas, the Marcellus and Utica shale in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, the projected oil and gas reserves just keep going up.

This week, the new Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, announced that onshore, the United States has double the amount of oil and three times the amount of natural gas previously thought.

If the Obama administration would allow states to take advantage of this new opportunity, and end its crushing ban on exploration and development in the Atlantic, South Carolina could even issue "Royalty Bonds" backed by these future revenues, to be paid off over 20-30 years by resources developed off the coast.

The state should be able to raise billions based on the potential revenues from oil and gas reserves, which could directly finance the infrastructure improvements it badly needs.

This model would be very similar to the innovative approach Governor Mitch Daniels took with infrastructure projects in Indiana. As he described recently in the exit interview published at Newt University, Indiana leased its Toll Road to a private operator in 2006 for $3.8 billion. The state reinvested that money in more than 200 infrastructure projects, without having to raise taxes a dime.

Governor Daniels said his aim was to unleash "trapped value" to get the best deal possible for Indiana taxpayers.

South Carolina certainly has a lot of "trapped value" offshore, just waiting to be unleashed.

Another Republican Senator from Massachusetts?

It was very exciting to see Gabriel Gomez win the Republican nomination for the Massachusetts Senate seat vacated by John Kerry. The son of Colombian immigrants, Gomez is a former Navy SEAL officer, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Harvard Business School, and now a successful businessman. He opened and closed his victory speech on primary night in Spanish. It's encouraging to see new faces like Gomez succeeding in the Republican Party -- and today, a new poll released by PPP shows him within four points of his Democratic opponent. We might have a Republican Senator from Massachusetts after all.

Your Friend,

May Charity of the Month: Boston Marathon Relief Fund
by Newt and Callista Gingrich

Our thoughts and prayers in the past two weeks have been with the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, a horrific act of terror which devastated many innocent lives, killing three young people and injuring hundreds of others. This month, we hope you will join us in supporting these victims and their families as they deal with this terrible pain.

The Boston Marathon Relief Fund has been established by the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, an exemplary charity devoted to assisting injured members of the U.S. military. All donations to the Boston Marathon Relief Fund will go directly to support those injured in the Boston attacks.

In addition to this financial assistance, the Semper Fi Fund has created the America's Fund Mentors Program. This initiative will allow veterans who have been supported by the Semper Fi Fund to mentor victims of the Marathon bombings as they recover. A substantial number of those hurt in the Boston attacks suffered amputations, and we hope they can find comfort in the recovery experiences of these wounded warriors who have dealt with similar injuries.

Please join us at this critical time in supporting the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Your Friends,
Newt and Callista

Land of the Pilgrims' Pride
Ellis is back and ready to learn about the birth of our great nation in the New York Times bestseller, Land of the Pilgrims' Pride. Written and illustrated by Callista Gingrich and Susan Arciero, Ellis once again educates and entertains as he discovers America's thirteen original colonies. Order autographed copies now>>

Victory at Yorktown
New York Times bestselling authors, Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen present the triumphant conclusion to their George Washington series with Victory at Yorktown, a new novel about faith, leadership, and the triumph of the American cause. Order autographed copies now>>


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