Public Land Use

There has been increasing controversy over the policies regarding the use of public lands, whether it is for oil or gas drilling, forest timber sales and attendant forest road building, or the sale of public land ostensibly to provide funding for the support of rural schools.   Accelerated energy resource exploitation on public lands or under public waters to satisfy increasing demand and reduction of dependence upon foreign energy suppliers is at best a short-term stop-gap palliative, with no long term benefit to our economy and the risk of serious permanent degradation of our natural resources.  Yet, the current Administration's just announced programs emphasize continued production of non-renewable fuels with some increased funding of non-renewable alternatives.  Without national long-term renewable energy and mineral exploitation plans (please also see the Energy and Environment issue topic), continued exploitation of public land resources without regard to the needs of future generations is tantamount to gradual national economic suicide as the natural bounty of the land and its resources is plundered and the natural endowment of Americans yet to be born is squandered. 

The exploitation of non-renewable public land resources for the production of fuels for transportation and electricity generation is environmentally destructive (i.e., greenhouse gas emissions) and economically indefensible when the needs of future generations are considered.  As a society, we are literally "eating the seed corn" of our natural resource endowment and will pass on to our children and their successors a ravaged and looted landscape of impaired productivity.   The hydrocarbon and mineral resources of our lands and waters will be needed by future generations to sustain the production of chemicals and materials needed for everyday living, not for our generation's current fuel and electricity production needs.  Most of our remaining unexploited natural resources are located on or under public lands and waters.  They should and must be conserved, managed, and protected for the benefit of future generations of Americans yet to be born. As mentioned in the Energy and Environment issue paper, a national High Plains Windpower Energy and Buffalo Conservation Reserve should be established in a two hundred mile wide swath running from the Canadian to the Mexican borders along the Central and Mountain Time Zone boundary where two million or more wind turbines would be installed.  The objective is to replace the use of all fossil fuels for transportation, electricity generation, and all commercial and residential structural heating and cooling needs by the year 2065.  Land acquisition from private landholders should be undertaken as properties become available and/or by eminent domain as necessary. Inter-generational land transfer would not be allowed and the heirs would be fully compensated for the market value of the land acquired.

European countries are now implementing programs to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy alternatives.  Over fifteen percent of Denmark's electricity needs are already being met by wind powered turbines.  Iceland is implementing a national program to replace all fossil fuel consumption by utilizing its abundant geothermal resources to generate electricity and then using the surplus electricity to produce hydrogen to meet its transportation needs.   Iceland's cheap electricity is already benefiting its economy by giving it a competitive advantage in the production of aluminum ingots for the European market.   Geothermal energy has long been employed to heat buildings in Iceland's capital. (Please read the Energy and Environment issue paper).

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