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Liberty Matters News Service, Issue 6

Mar 31, 2021 | 30x30, Liberty Matters | 0 comments

Western Caucus Members Oppose 30 x 30 | Activists Sue to Return Beetle to Endangered Status | Will the Supreme Court Reign in the Antiquities Act? | How Much Land will Biden’s Renewable Agenda Require? | Fight 30 x 30 Events Set for April

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Western Caucus Members Oppose 30 x 30

On March 16, 2021, 12 U.S. Senators and 50 Congressmen issued a letter opposing President Biden’s 30 x 30 program, noting the lack of congressional authorization to pursue the transformative land-use agenda.  President Biden made the goal of conserving 30 percent of America’s lands and oceans by 2030, a key component of his climate-crisis agenda, set forth in Executive Order 14008. 

Members point out that the West is already disproportionately home to over 90 percent of the federal lands, which Congress has mandated be managed for multiple-use and sustained yield.  Reduction in the productive uses of these lands under a conservation goal of preserving 30 percent of the nation’s land base would further harm local and State economies in the West. 

The letter states:

We urge you to remember that land management agencies are bound by a statutory-based multiple-use mandate. Our lands and our waters must remain open to activities that support our rural economies and help us to achieve our agriculture, timber, recreation, energy, and mineral needs. These multiple-uses are not only compatible with conservation ambitions, but they are an effective means to achieve these goals.”

Although the Biden Administration has not released any substantive details of how they intend to implement the program, they have confirmed that private property will be a key target of the conservation program. 

Recently, the Administration has clarified that private lands are included in this initiative, setting the stage for potential egregious federal overreach. While these lands contribute to overall conservation, subjecting private landowners to this nebulous federal program is an extreme breach of private property rights. More clarity is desperately needed.”

President Biden’s Executive Order directs the Department of Interior to produce an implementation plan for 30 x 30 and deliver it to the National Climate Task Force by April 27th.  They are to prepare this report with the input from States, local governments, and stakeholders.  The Western Caucus letter notes, however, that these key entities, primarily those who’s lands would be directly impacted, have been entirely left out of the process.

E & E News reports that the Administration has been holding meetings with recreational and environmental groups and some elected leaders.  However, Garfield County Colorado has still not received a reply to their request made earlier this month. Counties nationwide will be directly impacted by the program, infringing on their ability to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people, if more of their land is restricted from use. 

The Western Caucus also calls on the Administration to meet with the members and address the ambiguities of their proposed agenda within 60 days.

Activists Sue to Return Beetle to Endangered Status 

After five years of analysis, comments and hearings, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a final rule to downlist the American burying beetle (ABB) from endangered to threatened on October 15, 2020.  

It was a major victory for landowners in a growing list of states with populations of the ABB that includes Arkansas, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Texas. Activities in the general vicinity of potential species’ habitat were heavily restricted. This affected a broad array of otherwise lawful uses of both public and private land, including pipelines, roads, oil and gas wells, wind turbines, and electric transmission. Huge costs and extended timeframes impacted local, regional, and even national economies under the stringent rules applied to the ABB endangered, as opposed to threatened, status.

The downlisting came as a result of a delisting petition filed in 2015, by American Stewards of Liberty (ASL) as a part of the organization’s delisting campaign, as well as, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and a private sector PhD scientist. The petition demonstrated, that based on the best available science, it was clear the species had been listed in error, was abundant and persistent, resilient to climate change, and is successfully being reproduced and introduced back into the landscape across a significant portion of the nation. 

Instead of viewing the downlisting as a win for conservation, just last week the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sued to have a federal district court in D.C. order the Service to rescind its down-listing rule and reinstate the endangered status. In its complaint, CBD ignores evidence presented in the petition that the species known range has increased 100 fold since it listed and, instead, focuses on predictions that the range could contract in the future due to climate change. 

Rather, CBD appears fixated on the notion that because the ABB’s historic range has, for unknown reasons, been significantly reduced over the last century, it should remain listed as an endangered species. As USFWS points out in its final announcement on the down-listing, however, CBD completely misconstrues the definition of an endangered species under the ESA. Listing determinations are made on the basis of the science and date at the time of the determination. If a species in its current circumstances is not endangered, it is not relevant that (as they assert) decades ago it disappeared from significant portions of its original known range. This is especially true when there is no definitive understanding of what caused the alleged range contraction.

In addition to downlisting the ABB, USFWS adopted what is known as a “special take” or 4(d) rule, which is an option available to USFWS with respect to threatened (as opposed to endangered) species. USFWS has long recognized that the “take” prohibitions of the ESA accomplished little for conservation of the ABB. The special take rule allowed USFWS to lessen those restrictions in areas, particularly Oklahoma, considered safe for the ABB for the time being. This rule has the effect of considerably reducing the conflict around the ABB. Also, contrary to CBD’s assertions, the rule does not just benefit the oil and gas industry. Rather, it benefits a wide array of activities on public, tribal, and private land. Which is precisely why CBD also seeks to have the special take rule struck as well as the down-listing.

ASL filed the delisting petition based on credible science warranting the removal of the ABB from federal protection and intends to defend the downlisting decision.  Although the species should be removed entirely from the list, the down-listing has benefited landowners by allowing projects to proceed without exorbitant costs and time delays, and without impairing the continued existence of the ABB.

Will the Supreme Court Reign in the Antiquities Act?

Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts signaled that the Court may be willing to reign in presidential powers under the Antiquities Act.  The Act was drafted by Congress to prevent the theft of significant cultural artifacts and preserve historical sites, giving the President the sole authority to make such designations.  

President’s Clinton and Obama used the Act to designate the Grand-Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears Monuments, among others. President Trump reversed these actions and significantly reduced the size of both monuments.  However, environmental advocates are calling on President Biden to reinstate the original designations.

Chief Justice Roberts decided to weigh in on this topic when the Supreme Court denied hearing Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Et Al. v. Gina M. Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce, et al..  The Court noted that missing from the Lobsterman’s case were the arguments that allowed the court to consider whether the President had failed to restrict the monument to the smallest size necessary, as the Act requires.  Chief Roberts states: 

“While the Executive enjoys far greater flexibility in setting aside a monument under the Antiquities Act, that flexibility, as mentioned, carries with it a unique constraint: Any land reserved under the Act must be limited to the smallest area compatible with the care and management of the objects to be protected. See §320301(b). Somewhere along the line, however, this restriction has ceased to pose any meaningful restraint. A statute permitting the President in his sole discretion to designate as monuments landmarks,” “structures,” and objects”—along with the smallest area of land compatible with their management—has been transformed into a power without any discernible limit to set aside vast and amorphous expanses of terrain above and below the sea.” 

This comes as welcomed news since environmental advocates have been calling on the President to use the Act to reach the 30 x 30 goal, and the Administration has indicated it plans to use all the tools in the toolbox.

How Much Land will Biden’s Renewable Agenda Require? 

Princeton University took a look at how much land would be needed to site three million megawatts of new renewable power generation to achieve President Biden’s net-zero-carbon economy by 2050.  New wind and solar projects would take an estimated 228,000 square miles, or the equivalent of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. This equates to approximately 146 million acres of land that will be converted for renewables. 

Confusing the issue is that the climate crisis advocates pushing for the net-zero carbon economy believe land conversions and the use of fossil fuels are the two primary contributors to the irreversible climate catastrophe we currently face.  Yet, their solution to solving fossil fuel emissions, is to accelerate land conversions.

Land conversions are the reason they give for millions of species are going extinct, an exaggerated estimation on their part. They say a football field is converted to development every 30 seconds, or 1.1 million acres a year.  The solution for this is to permanently preserve 30 percent of our land (681 million acres) by 2030.  It’s inconceivable how thousands of miles of solar panels and millions of wind turbine towers will be compatible with this imminent threat.

If we have assessed their arguments correctly, we are being told we must convert 146 million acres into solar and wind fields so we can be 100 percent reliant on unreliable energy sources by 2050.  But first, we must permanently protect 681 million acres by 2030 to save our ecosystem and wildlife, which will be impacted more directly by renewable energy sitings, than the current rate of land conversions.

All this for a crisis that does not exist.

“Fight 30 x 30 Events” Set for April

Learn more about the 30 x 30 land grab and what you can do to protect your property and our American way of life.  We will be in four states this month to help educate citizens, landowner and elected leaders. Watch your email for more information as we get closer to each event. We hope you can join us.

NEBRASKA: April 12, 2021

Paxton High School @ 6 pm

Paxton, Nebraska

Speakers: Tanya Storer, Chuck Graff

OKLAHOMA:  April 15, 2021

Payne County Expo Center @ 7 pm

Stillwater, Oklahoma

Speakers: Trent Loos, Margaret Byfield

MONTANA:  April 19, 2021

Fergus High School Auditorium

Lewistown, Montana

Speakers: Tent Loos, Margaret Byfield

SOUTH DAKOTA:  April 20, 2021

The Historic Elks Theater

Rapid City, South Dakota

Speakers: Trent Loos, Margaret Byfield