National monument designations (such as Organ Mountains) don’t help the economy

Recently, the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce hired a high $ consulting firm to come up with economic data showing that the proposed wilderness designation of the Organ Mountains would be an unmitigated boon for the economy.

According to the Green Chamber’s report, “The expected annual economic impacts of National Monument designation could reach $17.6 million, which represents an increase of approximately $7.4 million in regional economic activity.” From the free market perspective, the idea of putting resources off limits to a large number of uses (as a wilderness designation would do) leading to increased economic activity, simply doesn’t make sense.

Unfortunately for the greens, as recently discussed in the Las Cruces Sun-News, two experts on the economics of such designations attempted to replicate the report. According to the experts, “We attempted to replicate these types of studies and failed. That is, using a careful methodology and making comparisons between counties through time, we find at best no effect on local economies and, more likely, negative effects of monument designations.”

Recent statements by Obama’s Secretary of the Interior indicate that President Obama may be looking to circumvent Congress by using executive power to name monuments. I’m certainly not a fan of such a move no matter the president, but purported “economic benefits” of such designations are tenuous arguments indeed.

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