IRVINE, CA–The recent controversial decision by Interior Secretary Gale Norton to open up to oil and gas exploration 2.6 million acres in Utah, previously off limits as a potential “wilderness areas,” is morally correct, says Dr. Andrew Bernstein, senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute.

The conflicting values at the heart of this and most other environmental controversies are very clear, says Dr. Bernstein: “the value of human survival vs. the preservation of birds, snakes, insects, trees and rocks.

“Environmentalists allege that wildlife and ‘pristine’ wilderness have value in and of themselves, apart from any use they have for man. Consequently, even when human prosperity requires industrial development of a wild area, they oppose it because of the ‘intrinsic value’ of nature.

“To be a champion of human life on earth, one must uphold as a moral absolute the requirements of human life and well-being. No other consideration is relevant, certainly not the pseudo-rights of animals and vegetation.”

Bernstein concludes that “industrial development, including that of oil and natural gas in America’s western states, is an enormous boon to human living standards and life expectancies. Consequently, Secretary Norton’s decision in this case to protect the rights of men to promote human life on earth is the only moral choice possible.”

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