Oceans & Forests Blog

Friends of the Earth testifies against corporate giveaways

Posted Nov. 22, 2011 / Posted by: Ben Schreiber

On Friday November 18, 2011, Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica testified in the House Committee on Natural Resources hearing titled ANWR: Jobs, Energy and Deficit Reduction.  The hearing was called by the Republican majority to promote drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in order to create jobs and generate revenue to help reduce the deficit.

Erich testified that drilling in the refuge does not make environmental sense or fiscal sense. He argued that we need less corporate welfare, not more giveaways of our valuable natural resources at discount prices.

If we are going to allow oil and gas extraction we should make the incredibly profitable corporations that drill on our lands pay a fair price for our natural resources. A good place to start would be ending royalty-free leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Making oil companies pay for taking publicly owned oil and gas in the Gulf would stop $53 billion over 30 years from being plundered from taxpayers.

It is not only and gas companies that are being gifted public resources. We have been handing away precious metals including gold, silver and copper for free on our public lands since 1872. Taxpayers are also losing money on grazing and timber programs because the timber is being so undervalued that it actually costs the government more money to administer the programs then we receive in fees.

Oil and gas extraction, mining, grazing and logging all destroy public lands and waters. Ending these programs would actually not only protect public health and the environment but also save money.

The cuts that Erich talked about can be found in our Green Scissors 2011 report. Green Scissors 2011 is a consensus report put out by Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense and The Heartland Institute which has identified over $380 billion in potential savings to taxpayers from eliminating harmful subsidies.

The hearing’s first day, on September 21, was intended by the Republican majority to be a pep rally for drilling in the Arctic Refuge and the Friday, November 18 second day was the Democratic response. It is no surprise that some didn’t receive Erich’s testimony particularly well.  In fact, as you can see in the video, or gather from A Siegel's recap at DailyKos, the hearing got a little testy at times. It is also the first time that a Friends of the Earth staffer has been asked to talk about security firm Blackwater at a congressional hearing.

Erich’s full testimony can be read here and a written copy of his shorter verbal testimony is available here.

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