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07.31.2009 0

The Barstool Economist: Privatize ANWR

  • On: 08/19/2009 09:19:41
  • In: Energy Crisis, Global Warming Fraud, and the Environment

  • Privatize ANWR

    By Justin Williams

    Last year at this time, as gas prices rose and the economy tanked, the hot button issue was energy. The Left believed that humans were overindulging and the only action to take was to reduce the nation’s “carbon footprint.” While the Right believed that America should only increase production of domestic oil.

    For the average American, recycling and drilling a little more probably seems like a good idea. Those ideas are very different than allowing the government to mandate recycling and subsidize drilling. This, of course, causes two major problems. The first solution restricts American’s freedoms while the second continues the spending of an already fiscally troubled nation.

    But, what if there was a third option that could simultaneously get the efficient amount of energy out of America while preserving the environment?

    Well, there is. It is called: implementing private property rights.

    Private property rights allow individuals to decide what type of grass to grow after they purchase a home. And it can be applied to many of the energy problems the world faces today.

    Take the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) owned by the government and the source of constant debate for drilling versus conservation. If private individuals were allowed to own the land, instead of the government, then society would get the most efficient balance of energy production versus conservation.

    This is because private ownership of property allocates resources more efficiently due to people’s willingness to pay through a market price system.

    For example, when Adam goes to the bar he sees a beer for five dollars. The bar is expressing that at any value below five dollars they would rather keep the beer. When Adam exchanges his money for this beer, he is expressing that he values the beer at five dollars (if not more).

    If this simple economic exchange were put to work in ANWR, the environmentalists and the corporations would bid for the ownership of the land. If the environmentalists value the land as a place of sanctuary more than new entrepreneurs value the oil, then environmentalists would get the property.

    The environmentalists may say that they cannot possibly compete with corporations that earn profits. But the alternative is to allow greedy politicians to decide what group they can get the most votes and campaign money from, using the force of law to impose their will.

    The truth is that environmentalists can compete, though they may not be able to prevent all possible efficient economic activity on the land. They would, however, be able to monitor every activity on their land while funding their causes.

    Economists Emily Schaeffer and Walter Block find the example of the Audubon Society, which owns and operates the Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary. This 26,000-acre sanctuary located in Louisiana has been pumping millions of dollars worth of natural gas, while keeping the land beautiful.

    The reason that the land remains beautiful is due to private ownership. The society monitors the practices of the extraction of natural gas and benefits from the profits.

    Implementing this solution would bring Americans the most efficient balance between energy and conservation, since those who own the property will take the most care of it and find the best uses for it.

    Justin Williams is the Senior Commentary Editor of ALG News Bureau and, as always, he accepts any questions or comments about the Barstool at

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