Saturday, August 14, 2010

Private Preservation

An excellent article from the Property & Environment Research Center, focusing on the Gulf Oil disaster, noting the ways in which it works better than preservation by the government, a position slowly beginning to be realized by many governments who are turning over public parks and open space to nonprofit management and fundraising, as we hope to see happen with the Parkway.

An excerpt.

“Free market environmentalists are everywhere these days, but you rarely hear about them in the mainstream press. Conventional wisdom for our entire lifetimes has been that only government protection can minimize or prevent environmental damage.

“The idea that markets are better at managing natural resources than governments may come as a shock to some, but the simple reason is that private property owners have more incentive and control to take care of property they own.

“Terry Anderson, executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Mont., made this case in his groundbreaking book, “Free Market Environmentalism,” co-authored with Donald Leal in 1991. It's well past time these ideas get more attention.

“In his June 25 Wall Street Journal article, “Why it's Safer to Drill in the Backyard,” Anderson explains an aspect of the current Gulf oil spill disaster you won't find in most media outlets.

“He refers to the Audubon Society's successful relationship with oil companies who have operated wells on its lands, but only when birds weren't nesting. Period. None of the ifs, ands or buts that are always present when politicians and special interests try to manipulate public land use.

“Why would Audubon allow well drilling on its environmentally-sensitive lands? To generate royalties for the purchase of more privately-owned land that can then be protected.

“Private organizations like Audubon are much better stewards of the environment than government. For an outrageous example of government failure, look no further than the ongoing Gulf oil spill, where available options for a speedy cleanup were set aside and President Barack Obama's political agenda rose to the top, like his never-ending refrains about alternative energy, cap and trade taxes and punishing the deep-water wells that did not blow out. None of these have anything to do with the current disaster, a masterful example of bait-and-switch by an expert politician.”