• With: Dan Henninger, Jason Riley, Kim Strassel, Stephen Moore, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Joe Rago, Matt Kaminski, Bret Stephens

    GIGOT: Yes, I agree with that. I think it's a real setback, if California keeps growing show.

    Kim?

    STRASSEL: Well, you mentioned Maryland, and we're talking about an outflow. The Democratic governor there, Martin O'Malley, is a mini-me Barack Obama. He went down this road. He instituted a millionaire's tax, and guess what? All the millionaires left Maryland.

    (LAUGHTER)

    So we know this is what happened.

    GIGOT: He's a maxi-me Barack Obama.

    STRASSEL: Yes. I should say that. That's right.

    GIGOT: And we wants to come and go to the national level. I think he has his eye on 2016.

    OK, when we come back, from energy to education to technology, our panel's pick for the good news stories of the year.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    GIGOT: Well, just when you thought there wasn't all that much to cheer about in 2012, our panel is here with good news from the year.

    Wall Street Journal editorial board member, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, starts us off.

    So what's your big news of the year?

    MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: It's a high-energy story, Paul and --

    GIGOT: Just like you, Mary, high energy.

    (LAUGHTER)

    O'GRADY: Basically, we have -- through technology, the United States has discovered that it has a huge amount of both shale oil and shale gas and can get it out of the ground, as I say, thanks to technology. And you know, that's not just a U.S. story. It's kind of a North American story.

    GIGOT: Right.

    O'GRADY: There's a ton of oil in Canada. There's lots of the same geological formations in Mexico. And so, you know, there's a lot of energy that can come up. And, for example, the CEO of Fluor, the large construction company, says there's at least $30 billion of potential projects just around the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

    GIGOT: People are talking now and, even saying, by 2020, which isn't that far away, we could be self-sufficient in terms of providing most of the oil, gas we get domestically.

    What are the implications of this for the larger energy? Not just for the energy economy, but for things like manufacturing and consumer prices?

    O'GRADY: Well, certainly, you know, obviously, residential heating, things like that would be more affordable --

    GIGOT: Cheaper.

    O'GRADY: -- and make us more competitive in manufacturing.

    But there's another angle that's also very interesting and that has to do with exports. We could actually become the leading producer of energy for the emerging markets. Energy demand in this country is going down, but in the rest of the world, it's going up. So this would be an enormous source of jobs and also tax revenues.

    GIGOT: And the big threat to this is politics --

    (LAUGHTER)

    If somehow regulators get in there and say, for whatever reason, that we're going to stop the shale gas revolution, and there are a lot of opponents of this. The Sierra Club, a lot of environmentalists want to kill this. There's still a moratorium on hydraulic fracking in the state of New York, though, right across the state, in Pennsylvania, it's booming.

    O'GRADY: Well, there's -- just as one example, in California, there's something called the Monterey Shale. It has more reserves than the Bakkan in North Dakota and the Texas reserves put together, but there's questions about whether the California environmentalists will allow us to go after that oil.

    GIGOT: I think the answer to that is no.

    (LAUGHTER)

    Jason, keep the good news coming.

    (LAUGHTER)

    RILEY: There was a lot of good news on the education front, the education reform front. I should specify, Paul, we had a ballot initiative passed in Washington State, one of the 10 states with no charter schools at all.

    This would allow the creation of them. Also, down in Georgia, a ballot initiative that would expand the current number of charter schools in that state. And in Louisiana, you had a state-wide voucher program expanded, signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal. So a lot of good news on getting people without access to good public schools better access to good public schools.

    GIGOT: Why this momentum now for school choice, whether charters or

    vouchers? What's behind it right now?

    RILEY: I think it's the track record of the system, the status quo.

    (CROSSTALK)

    RILEY: And the more we talk about the reality of options out there for people -- Paul, in Georgia, one in three high school freshmen does not graduate in four years. I mean, it's incredible. In Louisiana, something like 36 percent of schools were ranked "D" or "F" by the state. It's just hard to understand.