Honoring Two Conservation Trailblazers
By Michele S. Byers
Bill Dana and John Waleski didn’t cross paths. Bill lived in northern New Jersey and John lived in the Pine Barrens before retiring to the shore. Both were avid outdoorsmen: Bill’s passion was fly-fishing, John’s was hunting.
But they both loved wild lands in New Jersey – and had a desire to preserve them for future generations.
Bill and John were volunteers extraordinaire for New Jersey Conservation Foundation, going above and beyond in their quest to save the Garden State’s beautiful and unspoiled places.
Bill, a Morristown resident, passed away in February at the age of 83. John, who lived in Lavallette, passed away in June at the age of 65. Their lives serve as examples of how individuals with great dedication and a desire to help can make New Jersey a better place, for both people and wildlife.
Bill served as a New Jersey Conservation Foundation trustee and president for nearly two decades; under his leadership the foundation preserved thousands of acres across this state we’re in. He remained a trusted advisor long after his term had ended. Having spent his career as an investment manager, he could always be counted on for sound guidance on finance and much more.
He and his wife, Emma Joy, traveled the world in pursuit of trout, salmon and bonefish; his love of fly-fishing inspired him to work toward protecting land that protects rivers and streams and lakes.
He was a founding member of the Harding Land Trust, and a member of the advisory board of the Montana Land Reliance. In recognition of Bill and Emma Joy’s significant contributions to land conservation in Montana, where they had a summer home, the Montana Land Reliance honored them in 1991 with a Conservationist of the Year Award.
John Waleski was a hands-on guy, just what you’d expect from a former Eagle Scout. A former wholesale produce supplier, he blazed trails, picked up litter, planted trees, and more. He was instrumental in getting portions of the 1,227-acre Michael Huber Preserve (formerly known as Four Mile Spring) in Woodland Township donated to New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “I was thrilled to be able to save it forever,” he said in a 2009 interview.
In more than 30 years as a volunteer, John built boardwalks, birdhouses and even snake dens. He apprehended illegal all-terrain vehicle riders and guided birders to the best viewing spots.
“I believe you have to give back more than you take,” was his philosophy on volunteering. He was a longtime member of the Burrs Mill and Rosedale hunting clubs, and loved gardening and crabbing at the Jersey Shore.
Bill and John were both unique, irreplaceable individuals who made huge contributions to our state and are greatly missed. But their legacies will live on in thousands of acres of land in New Jersey that they helped to preserve.
To enjoy and admire their work, go for a walk at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and Michael Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve.
And to learn more about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michele S. Byers is the executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
Oil Industry Profits Are … Good!
By Robert L. Bradley Jr.
The world’s largest energy companies just released their first-quarter 2013 earnings. The eye-popping numbers? Chevron, $6.2 billion. Shell, $7.5 billion. ExxonMobil, the biggest, $9.5 billion.
On cue, left-leaning pundits and activists are rising to condemn the industry for excess. How dare Big Oil earn so much, while so many people are hurting?
But these accusations and insinuations are hardly accurate.
When compared to other industries, big oil doesn’t actually pocket that much. In 2010, for every dollar of sales, the oil and gas industry earned 6 cents. By comparison, across America’s manufacturing sector, the average profit earned was 8 cents per dollar. Among pharmaceutical companies and technology firms, profit margins are typically around 20 percent.
And despite what the Occupy Wall Street crowd would have you believe, the benefits from oil revenues aren’t confined to a ruling elite. They flow to millions of everyday Americans as workers in and owners of energy.
Too often, in discussions about business and public policy, a vital question goes unasked: What exactly do profits represent?
To grasp the answer, think about an everyday transaction for an oil company where the customer exchanges money for fuel to get to work or school – or just get back home.
Drivers aren’t purchasing gasoline or diesel because they’ve been coerced. They don’t buy from a government monopoly. Customers choose driving patterns and select a service station based on relative price, convenience and quality.
And from a broader perspective, inputs profitably transformed into outputs create economic value and thus economic progression.
Where do profits go? A sliver goes to executive compensation versus energy reserves replacement, infrastructure maintenance and upgrades and research and development. Company owners get rewarded too since profits drive stock prices and support dividend payments for more than 100 million Americans owning such stock.
The oil and natural gas industry supports 9.2 million American jobs and accounts for 8 percent of GDP. Cash flow from earnings funds new projects, which in turn, will expand domestic energy production and create new jobs and GDP growth at a time of great need.
Strong profits also mean greater tax revenues. Currently, the average oil producer pays 41 percent of its net income in taxes – a percentage that’s much higher than virtually every other industry. All told, the oil and gas industry pays about $85 million per day, to the U.S. Treasury.
When policymakers demonize oil industry growth, they’re actually encouraging the industry to sit on its cash and not invest in new projects. After all, if their antagonistic rhetoric becomes policy, for example punitive tax increases or stricter exploration regulations, new projects could turn unprofitable. Firms are understandably hesitant to start new ventures when the policy environment could quickly turn sour.
The oil industry might make for an easy target for political demagoguery. But their profits really represent good news in a struggling economy – and should not become a pretext for deprecating entrepreneurship that is playing a bright, vital role in the American economy.
Robert L. Bradley Jr. is the CEO and founder of the Institute for Energy Research and author of Edison to Enron: Energy Markets and Political Strategies (Scrivener Publishing and John Wiley & Sons.
Two River Moment
In this 1941 photo, Boy Scouts camp near railroad tracks by the Sandlass Beach Club in Sea Bright.