There was a hearing in Washington DC of the House Natural Resources oversight subcommittee this week to create regulations allowing for an accounting method to assess the value of environmental capital.

This idea is a controversial departure from traditional accounting practices and regulations.

Not a single proponent for environmental capital appeared to testify, though they were invited.

There was backlash after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had tried to create “natural asset companies,” which would monetize markets as ecosystem services.

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This would have placed the value of public lands as subjective environmental values, which means no objectively measurable economic output.

“I fear that we will not get the whole story today because some of our witnesses were not willing to come here and be berated by congressional members,” Democrat Congressman Stansbury said.

Rep. Harriett Hageman, R-Wyo., countered that advocates should expect a high level of scrutiny. But perhaps they could not handle it.

“When you're attempting to literally take trillions of dollars of value out of our economy, perhaps you should be subjected to difficult questioning,” Hageman said.

Speaking of one absent witness from Yale University, Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance said,

“This individual is, as far as I can tell, the leading proponent of natural capital accounting,” Sgamma said, “If academia can't attend to defend its academic ideas, that they can't be challenged. So I think that's kind of telling about the sad state of academia today.”


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The conservation leases would, Sgamma argued, lead to a collapse in revenue from resource development.

“I would add that, since we in the oil and natural gas industry provide 94% of the revenue for conservation that comes from the Great American Outdoors Act, you'd also have a collapse of conservation funding on federal lands,” Sgamma said.

Hageman noted that the draft lease rule could theoretically allow the BLM to lease all 245 million surface acres under its control to billionaire Bill Gates, anti-fossil fuel crusader, and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, or to China, which has an interest in blocking off U.S. land from economic development.

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