"He's a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys; he may look dumb but that's just a disguise; he's a mastermind in the ways of espionage." Charlie Daniels, "Uneasy Rider" Breaking the impasse on ANWR and OCS exploration and development Part II; a response to Bob Murphy - TT's Lost in Tokyo

Breaking the impasse on ANWR and OCS exploration and development Part II; a response to Bob Murphy

On the main Mises blog, Bob Murphy has just advocated opening ANWR and the OCS to oil and natural gas exploration and development, for the purpose of providing "rapid relief at the pump".  As my comment has been held up - it only had two links for Pete's sake! - I've decided to post a back-up copy here.

My comment (with minor tweaks) follows:

Bob, I agree generally with your analysis, but you really fail to address or answer the question of WHY the government should open up ANWR or the OCS - you state that the best reason to do so is because opening up more federal lands for drilling will "alter current behavior, leading to rapid relief at the pump." 

Interesting, but unexamined.  Is it the government's job to open up lands that political decisions, on the basis of competing values, have kept off the market, simply to provide relief to the complaining parts of the market (fuel users)?  If so, should the government also open up the SPR whenever markets climb and users complain?  Are there other markets that the government should also try to manage for the benefit of consumers?  And how do we choose between what markets and market segments to listen to - what happens if, say, environmental demands rise suddenly after an oil spill - should the government then rapidly move producing areas off lease and into reserves?

You also conclusorily state that it is an "absurd situation where 94 percent of federal land, and 97 percent of federal offshore waters, are not being leased by energy companies."  How is it that you have the wisdom to know how much and where the unidentified oil and gas resources lie, so you know what percentage of federal lands SHOULD be under an energy company lease?  And what about the small consideration of other values for the land in question - have you decided that energy trumps all?

Finally you conclude that "the ideal solution would be to completely privatize federal lands, so that the decision of whether or not to drill would no longer be a political one."  As my initial questions to you may indicate, I actually agree with you on this, but the reason for privatization is NOT to provide relief to consumers and other users at the pump, but in order to end incompetent and politicized and sometimes logjammed federal management, while improving management of both environmental and other resource values.

Not only have I done a more thorough job of explaining WHY the feds and our Congresscritters ought to open up ANWR and the OCS, I've also explained HOW we can move past the existing deadlock - in a proposal I laid out last week in my blog here:  "Breaking the senseless impasse on ANWR and OCS exploration and development - a tax and rebate proposal".

A deal on OCS seems easier to do than ANWR, because all that is needed to get the coastal states to agree is greater revenue-sharing with the states.

An ANWR deal should happen just out of fairness to the Inuit who own some land that is now bottled up in ANWR. [If they were given fee simple, then they could start drilling immediately, and while they'd have a right to access and transport across the wildlife reserve, they'd carry the liability for all environmental damage.  Sitting on ANWR makes it more likely that environmentally riskier OCS exploration and development in the Arctic Ocean will proceeed.]

By the way, has it ever occurred to you to wonder how much COAL leasing would occur if private parties and not the federal (and state) government owned the Western lands on which production is occurring?  With all of the royalties flowing into the coffers of federal and state governments?

Or to wonder how much extremely destructive coal production would occur in West Virgina and the rest of the Appalachians, if the governments were not being paid tremendous sums to turn a blind eye and to deny justice to those who are suffering all of the costs of the ongoing violation of private health and property rights and the transfer of costs and risks?  I addressed some of those issues here:  "Almost levelled, West Virginia: Crooked justice allows mountain-top removal practices to freely injure homes and health".



As I noted on my related post, enviros should move on ANWR because they can get a better deal - on federal resource management generally, and even on climate change - than by sitting pat.  And Austrians and others ought to support both such movement, and the type of changes in federal resource management that I've outlined.

Published Tue, Jul 29 2008 10:25 PM by TokyoTom


# Breaking the impasse on ANWR and OCS (Part III): WSJ op-ed supports Alaska-style direct pass-through of royalties from oil/gas produced from OCS leases

Friday, October 16, 2009 8:42 AM by TT`s Lost in Tokyo

Last week the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed by James P. Lucier, Jr ., a managing director of Capital

# Bob Murphy, Rob Bradley and the Austrian Road Not Taken on Climate by two fossil-fuels gunslingers

Thursday, October 29, 2009 9:40 PM by TT`s Lost in Tokyo