Winthrop Roosevelt, the great-great-grandson of former President Theodore Roosevelt, has partnered with Bismarck Tribune columnist/environmental activist Clay Jenkinson as well as the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress to produce a video trashing North Dakota’s oil boom (see below).
To go along with it, Roosevelt has also published a column in The Daily Beast in which he calls for the boom to be slowed down:
Slowing down and planning for the boom—even if the oil companies and state leaders are reluctant—is the only way to manage its impacts. As Clay Jenkinson, a prominent Roosevelt scholar interviewed in the video puts it: “When there’s that much oil, and that much profit, and that much employment, we as an enlightened people can afford to say, ‘but we don’t have to do all of it.’”
That’s an easy thing to say when you don’t own mineral rights. We should remember that most of the land in the Bakken formation is privately-owned. The people who own mineral rights want the resources they own developed so that they can reap the economic benefit. Telling someone who owns mineral rights that you want to slow their development at the peak of market conditions is like telling a farmer he can’t plant when wheat prices are high.
It’s not right. It’s an affront to property rights.
I’ve written about Mr. Jenkinson’s arrogant form of conservationism before. People like him tend to see western North Dakota as their personal playground, to be kept desolate and scenic for their enjoyment. But while we all want to protect the environment, we should also remember that most of the land out there belongs to private people who have every right to leverage it into wealth for themselves and their families.
We have protected areas in North Dakota. There is no drilling allowed in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There is drilling allowed near the park, but so what? That’s privately-held land.
It seems like a simple issue. Restrict activity inside the boundaries of protected land areas, but outside allow business-as-usual. We define the areas we want to protect, and then allow the responsible development of resources outside those areas. But Jenkinson and others want far more than that.
They claim to want a balanced approach to oil development, but in reality they want to hamstring development and hurt the tens of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of people it’s helping directly.
Oil development in North Dakota has been responsible, and well-regulated, and we should keep in mind that the end-goal of activists like Jenkinson (especially when partnering with far-left political groups like CAP) isn’t to protect the land. It’s to derail the development of fossil fuels.