What Do Otero Mesa, Valle Vidal and ANWR Have in Common?

Government does not make good deciscions when considering tradeoffs in the uses of government land. The political process seems to generate all-or-nothing competition among interest groups rather than carefully balanced multiple uses. For example:

ANWR itself, if only a symbol, is a symbol of something more complex than greedy executives or green extremists; it’s indicative of an irresolvable tension over publicly held land, uselessly locked away and yet uniquely vulnerable to special interests.

Closer to home it looks like the tradeoffs for Otero Mesa and Valle Vidal will be decided by political opportunists rather than by private market participants who have the incentives to encourage wise stewardship:

Richardson and state Attorney General Patricia Madrid, a fellow Democrat, have filed a lawsuit to limit oil and gas drilling at Otero Mesa in southern New Mexico.
Another battle is being waged over proposed methane gas drilling on the Valle Vidal in the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico.

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