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October 2014 - Volume 20, Number 4

   

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We Can Do It Better — Scotland and the West Parallels

by Marita Noon, Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, Inc.

Even though they were disappointed with the outcome, Scotland’s vote on the referendum for independence energized separatists’ movements within the U.K., Europe, and the U.S. While Scotland voted “No,” the vote caused enough concern in London, that, in effect, it won anyway.

Before the first vote was cast, the Scottish National Party had forced the British government to promise Scotland more control over its affairs. One of the major complaints of the independence campaigners: a government closest to the people makes better decisions than one far away — in the case of Scotland, that government is in London.

But, the story in Scotland had another — less-reported — element: energy resources.

 

Scotland


About 90 percent of the U.K.’s oil comes from Scotland and the oil-and-gas industry is the largest corporate taxpayer in Britain — but Scotland doesn’t collect that tax. Taxes are collected and paid into the Treasury’s coffers in London, which, then, spreads it around and gives some of it back to Scotland. Supporters of an independent Scotland believe it is being held back from its full economic potential.

Like Scotland, the excessive federal control of land and resources in the West is the root of a brewing rebellion.

The federal government makes decisions far away, in Washington, D.C., that hold back economic potential, which would benefit the states if they were allowed to be creating jobs and new wealth — resulting in an increased tax base.

As was the case in Scotland, Washington, D.C., has different priorities. If western states had more authority over the lands within their borders, they’d make better decisions.

The federal government abuses its ability to declare national monuments by putting massive swaths of land out of productive use. It is doing the same with the Endangered Species Act: introducing predators into active ranching regions and using protecting a lizard to prevent oil-and-gas drilling. It claims to be saving a potential owl habitat by stopping logging, resulting in overgrown, unhealthy tinderboxes where logging resources frequently go up in smoke. I could go on, as there are many more examples, but these are some of the causes in which I’ve personally been involved and previously addressed.

Much like Scotland finally had enough of being under the thumb of British rule, the Bundy Ranch story — with total strangers converging in Nevada in defense of a rancher they’d never met — gave voice to an anger that has been building up in the West. Of all the western states, Nevada has the most federally managed land — more than 80 percent.

Utah has led the way by becoming the first state to pass legislation that calls on the federal government to begin to work with them on transferring federal lands to the state — as was the ultimate intent of the Enabling Act that called for the federal government to “dispose” of the lands. More than 60 percent of Utah’s lands are managed by the federal government, and those lands are often rich in natural resources.

The movement is growing. Several states, like Nevada, have created task forces to study issues surrounding how public lands controlled by the federal government would be managed if they were transferred to the state. Others, like New Mexico, are working on legislation and resolutions.

The leaders are pushing for victory. But, even if, as happened in Scotland, the self-governance of federal lands doesn’t happen, a groundswell of support could bring about policy changes that would benefit the West.

Let your state and federal elected officials know that you support state management of public lands and that you want decisions made at the local level — because we can do it better.

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, is Executive Director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Originally published September 23, 2014. Reprinted with author’s permission.

 

 

FACTS & OPINIONS is one of our quarterly membership newsletters, arriving in January, April, July, and October. It consists of short articles of public interest with an emphasis on current issues.

 

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