by E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow Greg Walcher
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel
Let’s say we’re neighbors. You have a beautiful and valuable car, and you decide to sell it. But I like looking at it in your driveway, so I might offer you even more than it’s worth — not to sell it. I don’t want to take it away or drive it. I just enjoy looking at it from my window. So here is the money, and you keep the car.
You might think I have more money than brains, but managers of natural resources have dealt with offers like that for years. Most recently, an environmental group near Bozeman, Montana may succeed in blocking logging there for the next quarter-century — by paying the state for the timber. The group, which calls itself the “Save Our Gallatin Front,” was the highest bidder on a 443-acre timber sale, though it has no intention of removing any trees. The organization bid $400,000 for the timber, far more than its estimated value. The one other bidder, an actual timber company, offered exactly the estimated value, only to be outbid by this group, whose sole intention is to stop the use of the resources.