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.
To read the full article, visit The Hill.