Sunday, August 04, 2013

Value of natural resources on public lands: over 30,000 jobs in Arizona

The US Dept.of Interior calculates that the  "FY 2012 value added and economic contribution associated with production and activities on DOI [ie,public] lands are estimated to be $210 billion and $371 billion, respectively. These outputs are estimated to have supported 2.3 million jobs in FY 2012" in  a new report issued this week.  [Right, public lands in the US.  Credit, Forest Council]

"Non-fuel mineral [ie, hardrock] production was associated with an estimated value added of $13 billion; estimated output of $21 billion; and estimated employment supported about 111,000 jobs."

In Arizona the value of Interior Dept. resources for 2012 amounted to: 
  • Recreation = $1.88 billion
  • Energy & Minerals = $1.11 billion
  • Grazing & Timber = $0.05 billion
  • Total = $3.44 billion

Economic activities on Interior Dept. public lands supported 30,964 jobs in Arizona, according to the report.

The report cautions that economic value from mining and energy production are diminished because of unquantified environmental effects ("While minerals are generally traded in competitive markets (though some markets may be localized or thin), prices may not incorporate the external costs associated with mining.").    

But similar concerns are not voiced about the environmental impacts of millions of users of public lands for recreation purposes.  Can it reasonably be argued that external costs of recreation are not incorporated in the prices charged?  

Another issue not addressed is the difference between salaries, with those in the leisure industry typically among the lowest and those in mining among the highest.

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