In a March 15 letter to Biden, 64 Republican members of Congress, including Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and Congressman Mark Amodei of Nevada, expressed concern about the lack of details accompanying the goals, and the inability of Biden’s Interior Secretary, Deb Haaland, to answer questions about the initiative in her confirmation hearing.
The letter notes that the federal government manages 640 million acres of land, over 90% of which is west of the Mississippi. With significant federal land ownership, Western states will be disproportionately impacted by policies set to achieve the “30 by 30” goal.
Haaland’s appointment was newsworthy because she became the first Native-American to lead the Interior Department. A supporter of the Green New Deal, Haaland is a staunch progressive who wants to stop all oil and gas leasing on public lands. In 2019, she was sponsor of House Resolution 835 — “30 by 30” mirroring legislation, “with a long-term goal of conserving 1/2 of the planet…”
Reaching “30 by 30” in the U.S. will require a huge increase in protected areas. Recently, the Biden administration clarified that private lands are included in this initiative, setting up issues for potential federal overreach. Subjecting private landowners to this nebulous federal program is a breach of private property rights.
As far as federal land goes, the quickest path to increasing the numbers of acres conserved would be to create new national parks, monuments, and wilderness areas to add to existing acres. Biden has authority under the Antiquities Act to create and restore national monuments on land or sea, and unlike national parks, no approval by Congress is required.
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