Wilderness in 34 Eastern States Open to Drilling
Libya delays Gaddafi’s oil dividend for citizens
If you want to settle the dispute between land uses in favor of sustainability, you better get serious about winning geonomics, a reasonable shift of taxes and subsidies. We trim, blend, and append three articles from: (1) Oxfam America, 2008 Aug 6, on Peru by Hufstade; (2) PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibity), 2009 Feb 19, on US forests; and (3) Al Jazeera, Mar 4, on Libya.
by Chris Hufstade, by PEER, and by Al Jazeera
Resource Revenues Elusive in Peru
Money flows from gold and silver mines and natural gas pipelines. But it’s hard for outsiders to track. And the billions are not helping the poor -- half the people in Peru -- says Grupo Propuesta Ciudadana, a government watchdog organization supported by Oxfam America.
Near Cusco, the Camisea gas pipeline had brought development for some but left the rest in poverty.
JJS: Many note this phenomenon but few read the explanation in Progress and Poverty, the classic by Henry George.
The pipeline is being run by an international consortium, and is partly funded by $135 million from the Inter-American Development Bank.
JJS: So it’s run by servants of the global wealthy elite, who enjoy free access to taxpayer dollars. And what did the local Peruvian elite do with their share of the natural resource revenue?
As a result of Camisea royalties, the local budget for infrastructure projects went from less than $700,000 in 2003 to more than $65 million by 2007. What is there to show for the increased expenditure? The municipality has constructed a new office building.
Meanwhile, indigenous communities have suffered from pipeline spills, decline in fish populations, and environmental degradation.
Companies are required to publish information about revenues and spending but do not always divulge the information. Javier Aroca, an attorney who is Oxfam America’s advisor on extractive industries in South America, says all transactions related to extractive industries must be clearly defined and described, so that all the information is included in the national budget. The management and final use of the funds must be published, especially at the regional and local levels. This would help increase trust in public institutions and ensure there is no corruption.
JJS: Let’s accept that the value of nature is part of the commonwealth (a very big part) and belongs to us all equally. Treat any siphoning off from Earth’s worth as an act of theft. That’d give pause to both extractive industries and compliant politicians. And it’d make it easier politically to have mixed use -- including non-use -- of wilderness.
Wilderness in 34 Eastern States Open to Drilling
Dueling lawsuits by both industry and environmentalists concerning thousands of oil and gas wells on the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania prompted the Forest Service on December 29, 2008 to formally solicit public comment on how to craft “regulations to provide clarity and direction on the management of National Forest System surface resources when the mineral estate is privately held”.
The agency’s quandary is especially acute east of the Mississippi where large percentages of its wilderness and experimental forests -- areas normally not subject to development -- sit atop privately-held mineral estates. Karst hibernation habitat for the highly endangered Indian bat is in an experimental forest (managed for research) in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. As long as the agency overlooks extraction, it puts decades of research at risk.
For the past twenty-five years, the Forest Service has not applied any environmental restrictions on private extraction efforts, following a 1983 decision by an Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, its parent agency. As a result, the Forest Service has not imposed the slightest protection for its most ecologically sensitive lands or wildlife from damaging extraction operations. The other major federal land management agency, the Interior Department, already has regulations governing this topic.
JJS: Presently, only a few reap the revenue from extraction and development. But imagine if we all received the revenue from all uses, including wilderness outings and habitat preservation. When a forest’s usage is optimal, which includes non-use, then its overall value is maximal. Most people would prefer balanced use and top value, especially if they received a share. Unfortunately, sharing often runs into stiff political opposition, even for dictators.
Libya delays Gaddafi oil plan
Libya's executive and legislative bodies have voted to delay an oil distribution scheme of Muammar Gaddafi to plug the wealth gap between the poor majority of the country and the rich, who many Libyans say monopolize power and money.
The Libyan leader, who has advocated handing out oil revenues directly to the people to beat endemic corruption in the government, would have distributed about $32bn this year alone.
The results of the vote were announced at a meeting of the General Public Congress (GPC) at Gaddafi's home town, Sirte.
Only 64 of the 468 Basic People Congresses (LBPCs), or municipalities, voted for Gaddafi's plan to hand out the money now, while 251 endorsed the plan in principle "but asked for [it] to be delayed until appropriate measures were put in place".
Of the country's five million people, about one million of the poorest could receive up to 30,000 dinars ($22,990) a year each if the initial plan was endorsed, according to government estimates debated at LBPC meetings.
Libyans would forfeit their right to medical services and other traditional public services in return for a share of oil revenues.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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