Drilling to reduce deficit is a bad business call

The Hill
By BY NANCY E. PFUND, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR
November 10, 2017

Lost in the atten­tion focused upon Congress’s pas­sage of the Bud­get Res­o­lu­tion, which allows the Sen­ate to cir­cum­vent fil­i­buster rules while pass­ing tax reform leg­is­la­tion, is the fact that the very same pro­ce­dur­al device can, and like­ly will, be used to attempt to dra­mat­i­cal­ly expand oil and gas explo­ration on our nation’s pub­lic lands.

The pro­vi­sion with­in the bill instructs the Sen­ate Ener­gy and Nat­ur­al Resources Com­mit­tee to con­sid­er leg­is­la­tion this fis­cal year that would reduce the deficit by at least $1 bil­lion over the next 10 years. Two key Repub­li­cans in the Sen­ate — cur­rent Ener­gy and Nat­ur­al Resources Chair­woman, Lisa Murkows­ki of Alas­ka, and James Inhofe of Okla­homa — have stat­ed on the record that they want the com­mit­tee to con­sid­er open­ing pub­lic lands, both in Alas­ka and the con­ti­nen­tal Unit­ed States, to drilling to achieve this objec­tive.

This effort is tremen­dous­ly short­sight­ed. America’s pub­lic lands are a nation­al trea­sure, pro­vid­ing recre­ation and relax­ation to mil­lions of Amer­i­cans each year. As a ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist lead­ing a coali­tion of busi­ness lead­ers in the Unit­ed States called the Con­ser­va­tion for Eco­nom­ic Growth Coali­tion (CEGC), we view these areas as a key eco­nom­ic dri­ver, attract­ing our nation’s most inno­v­a­tive com­pa­nies, who want to offer their employ­ees access to these his­toric areas. This line of think­ing might seem sur­pris­ing, but expe­ri­ence bares it out.

When a com­pa­ny plans to locate to a new facil­i­ty, that deci­sion is based, in part, on the like­li­hood that it will be easy to recruit and main­tain a high-qual­i­ty work force; one of the fac­tors in cal­cu­lat­ing that like­li­hood is prox­im­i­ty to the world-class recre­ation­al oppor­tu­ni­ties our nation­al mon­u­ments can pro­vide.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Con­sid­er Amazon’s request for pro­pos­als for its sec­ond nation­al head­quar­ters. Among the cri­te­ria the com­pa­ny iden­ti­fies as a required for con­sid­er­a­tion is the avail­abil­i­ty of “recre­ation­al oppor­tu­ni­ties.” And Ama­zon is far from alone.

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