By Darrell Morrow
Wealth derived from the free capitalistic economic system in the United States is why the country can have a clean environment.
That was the message presented by economist Dr. Terry Anderson to more than 300 persons attending the opening session Thursday of the 13th annual Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Conference at the Marriott Hotel.
"Economics and the environment are not at odds with one another. It is not economics vs. the environment. It is only the free market environmentalism that can give us the true environmental management we desire," Anderson said.
Anderson is professor of agricultural economics at Montana State University. He specializes in the field of natural resource and environmental policy, and is an active state and federal government policy adviser. He also has been a consultant to the governments of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
Economic interest in the environment has a more significant impact in maintaining a clean environment than activistd governmental controls, Anderson said.
He cited examples of common occurrences in the timber, oil and agricultural industries of efforts on privately owned land to preserve wildlife species and protect the environment.
The habitat of many species of birds and animals was improved by commercial development of a wildlife preserve owned by the National Audubon Society along the Louisiana coast, he said.
The National Audubon Society was enticed with the offer of receiving $1 million to $2 million a year in royalties from oil drillers to allow development of oil reserves under the property. The oil companies added some dikes and other improvements that enhanced the coastal land as a nesting ground for birds and made it more inhabitable for other animals, Anderson said.
"There are now wells there that you will have trouble finding them; the birds haven't been disturbed, the alligators haven't been disturbed and the 'coons are getting along just fine _ and all done on private property owned by the National Audubon Society, one of the groups that is spending millions of dollars in Washington, D.C., telling us we can't drill in Anwar Game Refuge in Alaska.
"What is the difference? The difference is very simple. They own the property (in Louisiana), they can call the shots and they bear the cost of not drilling. They don't bear any cost of not drilling at Anwar," he said.
Game rangers in Zimbabwe, with all of their tough enforcement of laws against poaching endangered elephants and other animals, could not succeed. When the government gave the wild animals of the regions to local communities, the animals gained economic value and the villages enforced tough preservation and management practices of the animals, he said.
"The natives hated the animals. They were a nuisance before. …