Unanswered Questions on President Biden’s “30 by 30” Plan
Earlier this week, the Biden Administration released the much anticipated “America the Beautiful” report. The report, compiled by the Departments of Commerce, Interior and Agriculture along with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, was expected to outline specific details related to the “30 by 30” initiative, which is the administration’s goal to protect 30% of the nation’s land and water by the year 2030. However, the report was more of a vision statement than a detailed plan.
The primary aim of the 30 by 30 initiative is to preserve more land under federal government control, with the ultimate goal of increasing conservation efforts and addressing climate change. However, opponents claim that this is more of a land grab than a win for the environment. In fact, studies show that the closer to home that a land is governed, the better it is managed from both an economic and environmental perspective.
This plan is not new. In fact, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland was instrumental in leading this effort during her time in the U.S. House of Representatives, work she has continued in the Biden cabinet.
The federal government already controls 28% of the nation’s land mass; however, only 12% is currently “protected” as the administration intends under this plan. The federal government would need to acquire or “re-classify” upwards of 681 million acres of additional land and water in order to meet the 30% preservation goal.
Efforts to curtail this initiative are already underway as many questions remain. Where will this land come from? How will this land be “protected?” Who will pay for it? What economic activity will have to be sacrificed, both in the present and future? What (if any) environmental benefit will there be? These questions remain effectively unanswered, leaving many Americans in rural and agricultural areas, particularly in Western states, apprehensive.
Last month, ALEC panelists discussed these questions during our Policy Hour webinar on Federal Lands. Panelists included former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, Wyoming State Representative and ALEC Board Member Dan Laursen, and Executive Director of American Stewards for Liberty, Margaret Byfield. Members can access that recording through ALEC Connect.