Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

By Chris Philips
Managing Editor 

Land Grab


“For years I have expressed significant concerns about offshore drilling in the arctic. The federal administration should not enable new oil and gas drilling in these untouched areas that host such a fragile environment.”

Jay Inslee, Governor, Washington State, March 31, 2015

“No future extraction [on public lands]. I agree with that.”

Hillary Clinton, Democratic Nominee for President,

Feb. 4, 2016

Who owns the West? Increasingly, it’s the US Federal Government, with the help of compliant state executives, and if you don’t mind, they’d prefer you got off their lawn.

Federal lands account for 69 percent of Alaska, 30 percent of Washington, 53 percent of Oregon and 45 percent of California. The Feds also have 19 percent of Hawaii, although that number might need recalculating, as we’ll discuss below. In the 13 Western states, Uncle Sam owns an average of 47 percent of the land, while controlling less than 5 percent of the land in thirty-seven East Coast and Midwest states.

In early August, the US Chamber of Commerce released a paper examining the effects of eliminating energy production from US Federal lands and waters. Their researchers found that restricting or eliminating production of oil, natural gas and coal on federal lands would carry significant and wide-ranging negative consequences.

Federal lands account for 24 percent of the country’s resource production. According to the Chamber of Commerce paper, a ban on future energy production would result in the loss of more than $11.3 billion per year in royalties (California alone would lose $591 million), 380,000 direct and indirect jobs, and $70 billion per year of gross domestic product.

Combine the increasing amount of land under federal control and the desire to remove it from resource production and you don’t have to be an economist to predict the results.

In July, the Washington Department of Ecology, directed by Governor Jay Inslee, petitioned the EPA to designate all of Puget Sound as a no-discharge zone (see pacific maritime magazine, August 2016), which would have a chilling effect on maritime commerce in the area.

On August 24th, Hawaii Governor David Ige (D) sent a letter to President Barack Obama, requesting that his state’s Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument be expanded to an area of 582,578 square miles.

Two days later, Obama approved the expansion and effectively closed the area off the state of Hawaii to commercial resource extraction, including commercial fishing, although recreational fisheries are still allowed.

The new borders are essentially the 200-mile EEZ around Hawaii.

The size of the forbidden zone, 582,578 square miles, can be difficult to appreciate, so we did a little math. The area closed to commercial activity can be compared to the area of the entire Eastern and Gulf Coast seaboard:

Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Plus the area of the state of Indiana.

Put simply, Hawaii Governor David Ige and President Barack Obama have closed an area the size of the Gulf of Mexico to commercial resource extraction.

This war on the West is being fought quietly and insidiously, and it can only be stopped at the ballot box. Governor Ige won’t be running again until next year, but given the statements quoted above by Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, the writing is on the wall. They want you off their lawn.


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