Category Archives: Environmental Economics

Conservative idea, temporarily disavowed.

Conservatives originally proposed that markets could help correct mans impact on the environment.  Just get the cost of environmental degradation included in the cost of production.  According to Steve Zwick at Forbes, the idea had some traction until the whole conservative movement “went collectively insane.”  . . . more>>

More good news, this time for the Grand Canyon.

Today Interior Secretary Ken  Salazar’s issued a rule proposing to protect the Grand Canyon from new uranium claims.  In 2009  Secretary Salazar placed a two-year moratorium on new uranium mining claims on a million acres of public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon, overturning a Bush administration policy that encouraged thousands of new claims when the price of uranium soared in 2006 and 2007. Many of those making claims are foreign interests, including Russia’s state atomic energy corporation. Does it weird anybody out but me that the anti-environment conservatives ,the heirs of the McCarthy era of communist hunters, thought that having Russia own an atomic energy mine in the Grand Canyon was a good idea?  . . . more>>

Have you noticed that it is almost always hazy?

I was at a star gazing party in southern Utah recently and met a businessman my age as he showed me around his telescope setup.  As we got to know each other it turned out this guy, who seemed otherwise a lot like me, was a climate change denier.  He told me his reasons and I listened.  He was pretty sure of himself.  The only notion that seemed to set him back was the observation that the air around Capitol Reef National Park, air that used to be so clear there were view point signs touting it (150 miles visibility used to be), is now almost always hazy.  He had noticed that too.  Here, William Anderson, chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes in southeastern Nevada, talks about the external cost of air pollution and benefits of clean air, that is the externalities that don’t show up on a balance sheet or income statement but are real none the less, in this concise entry from Writers on the Range. . .more>>

Value of wilderness debate: Wilderness wins 9:1

I found this debate in The Economist to be a terrific, brainy way to get a review of how we got to where we are today on our sense of the value of wilderness.  The best points I thought were made by “featured guest” contributors that centered on the relatively poor results environmentalists achieve when they take a no compromise position.    Michael Shellenberger & Ted Nordhaus make the lucid point that,

Ignoring those questions (of how to manage development), and engaging in romantic visions that such a world can be sustained through small-is-beautiful projects, imperils the effort to produce a beautiful and healthy planet more than any corporation or government.

It is surprising to me that readers of  The Economist would be so profoundly in favor of the notion that:

This house believes that untouched wildernesses have a value beyond the resources and other utility that can be extracted from them.

. . . more>>

Rob Bishop is flunking economics.

Utah Representative Rob Bishop has brought out Southern Utah University professor Ryan Yonk, to give testimony to the Public Lands Subcommittee about his recently issued paper, a paper without peer review, asserting wilderness and protective designations for federal lands have a negative economic impact on local communities.  No wonder right wing climate change deniers like Bishop feel like academia can be bought.  Just as when Bishop towed Escalante Mayor Jerry Taylor before Congress to testify against national monuments and Taylor received serious backlash from his own chamber of commerce when he got back to Escalante, Yonk is getting backlash.  Headwater Economics and  Republican Jim DiPeso of thedailygreen.com and the policy director for Republicans for Environmental Protection reply.  . . . more>>

The Third Industrial Revolution

The ever increasing extent of industrial/political cronyism in the U.S. economy is a serious concern.  Seeking Alpha is a website from my old investment world which looks for trends and places to earn increased returns.  Hazel Henderson reviews Jeremy Rifkin’s new book there, The Third Industrial Revolution.  In an alarming statement Henderson says, “My colleague Dr. James Fletcher on the Technology Assessment Advisory Board to the US Congress told us at a meeting in the 1970s that if the US had subsidized solar-based energies to the same extent it subsidized oil, coal, gas and nuclear energy, that our country would already be run on solar and renewables. Fletcher went on to become Administrator of NASA, the US space program. . . . However, as I found in the 1980s, the barriers were the incumbent fossil and nuclear industries whose influence over Congress kept their huge subsidies and forced renewables to climb a steeply-tilted playing field.”  Rifkin has solutions.  Let me know if you read the book.  . . . more>>

More Republican assault on our wild land heritage.

The right-wing notion that the environment is the enemy has come around blindingly fast.  The notion doesn’t make enough sense to stand on its own.  Rather, it is being PR packaged by big industry special interest in a form of pernicious cronyism.  Here, the Grand Canyon Trust reports that a group of  Republican lawmakers, including Senator McCain, is introducing legislation to stop the Obama administration from blocking new mining claims around the Grand Canyon.  There won’t be many Americans who think that the Grand Canyon is a good place to mine.  What are these cowboys thinking? . . . more>>

It’s out there when both the right and left are alarmed.

From the  Adventure Journal today, The National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, sponsored by Utah’s Congressman Rob Bishop and approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources 26 to 17, waives the power of 36 environmental and other laws within 100 miles of U.S. borders nationwide (angering environmentalists, since that territory includes Olympic National Park, Big Bend National Park, Allegheny National Forest, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Glacier National Park), and cuts the knees out from under the Department of Agriculture as well, which means all rights to timber claims, grazing, and farming would go by the wayside.  Continue reading

Ranchers wearing Tevas!

Earlier I made a post referring to an article about grazing and land management in the Los Angeles Times.    Now here is one from The Atlantic, featuring 21st century ranchers, one even wearing Tevas.  Tevas on a Suburu driving rancher is not something you see every day.  The Atlantic has picked up on the critical idea that managing range land to optimize grass growth can make a significant impact on global carbon sequestration.  It’s good to see that deceptively benign appearing grazing practices are being seen in the national press as a globally important issue.  But, once again, it is the local “way of life” that stands in the way.  Can Wall Street actually help? . . . more>>