30 x 30

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The Great Misdirect

by | May 12, 2021 | 30x30 | 0 comments

Public version of Biden’s 30 x 30 National Climate Task Force Report released. It paints a warm and fuzzy picture while ducking the hard issues.

A close read of the 24-page report on 30 x 30 to the National Climate Task Force, released to the public May 6th, conveys few details on how the program will be implemented. Launched by the Biden Administration in the Climate Crisis Executive Order (EO 14008), the President called for a report to be completed within 90 days to “propose guidelines for determining whether lands and waters qualify for conservation.”

We still don’t know what these are.

The report does, however, deliver the Biden Administration’s narrative that America’s lands are in great need of “conservation and restoration,” and that more government control over our lands and livelihood is justified to reverse the claimed climate crisis.

Reading the opening sections of the report, you learn that America and the world are in trouble, that nature is disappearing leading to a climate crisis for species, wildlife, and humans, and causing inequitable access to the outdoors for communities of color and the low-income.

Both globally and nationally, scientists are sounding the alarm about a catastrophic extinction crisis that threatens the biodiversity of our planet and the health of the natural systems that supply our food, water, and other resources.” (“Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” page 8)

The citation for this statement is to the United Nations, “Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Summary for Policymakers,” published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services(IPBES).

A key conclusion in this report is:

The global rate of species extinction is already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than the average rate over the past 10 million years and is accelerating.” (page 24, Item 6).

Appendix 4 of the IPBES report is the “Draft Table of Knowledge Gaps,” where they identify the critical information scientists do not know, and it is voluminous. It raises the question how can the Biden Administration be certain we are facing a “catastrophic extinction crisis” when scientists admit their future projections are based on inadequate information?

Nevertheless, the Biden Administration has accepted this conclusion and continues to thrust America into this still undefined 30 x 30 program by filling top policy positions with proponents of the agenda, including Vice President Harris and Secretary of the Interior Debra Haaland.

The quick push back from Americans who value private property rights has caused the administration to rebrand the program. To shake off the label of “land grab,” they are asking Americans to refer to the program as “America the Beautiful.” Yet, they provide no indication the original agenda has changed.

The Administration’s new path towards controlling our land is carefully packaged in lofty sounding goals that resonate with the urban public, such as “locally-led,” “stakeholder collaboration,” and “working lands conservation.” But their principles and goals are empty ideals with very few details of how they are to be achieved.

Although the Administration states we must “conserve” and “restore” our lands, it does not define what this means nor how this will be done. It does not even define what lands or land use designations qualify. The Department of Interior seemed certain only 12 percent of the nation was “permanently protected” when the Executive Order was released, but now the Administration will not confirm that these highly restricted areas are to be included in the 30 x 30 plan.

The few specifics that are listed in the Report focus on priorities of urban and suburban areas who know little, if anything about all the federal restrictions currently placed on our rural lands inhibiting good resource management. The Administration is selling this audience more of the same, in greater doses, and counting on their buy in.

For instance, they emphasize the need for more parks in urban areas, so people have access to open space within ten miles of their homes. They advocate for unlocking access to landlocked public lands for America’s hunters and recreationists, which require securing public access across private lands. Further, they offer more funding to tribal communities. The Administration needs these three important constituencies to support the more aggressive land restrictions that will be required to reach 30×30.

None of these small-sized actions will get them to a 30 percent conservation goal alone. There must be more – a lot more – and although they are not telling us directly, they have been revealing what these are since taking office.

On February 11th, the Acting Secretary of the Department of Interior took unprecedented action and rescinded a key Secretarial Order before the Senate-confirmed Secretary had been installed. The rescinded order gave States and local governments the ability to veto a federal land acquisition made through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Removing this hurdle will make it easier for the federal government to take land from private landowners. How can they legitimately claim this program is locally driven when they have taken away the ability to oppose their action?

On February 26th, the White House endorsed the passage of HR 803 – a massive land grab that creates 1.5 million acres of new Wilderness, withdraws 1.2 million acres with rare earth mineral deposits from mineral development, designates 1,200 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers, expands 110,00 acres of National Monuments and adds 400,000 acres to recreation and special conservation. They praised HR 803 as necessary to help the nation achieve the 30 x 30 program.

Even though they will not tell the public directly what lands qualify for 30 x 30, we do know by the actions taken and now being proposed that federal land acquisitions, wilderness designations, mineral withdrawals, wild and scenic river designations, national monuments, and other restrictions that erode the rights of landowners are tools the Biden Administration intends to implement. But, to say this directly would give more people specific reasons to oppose the agenda and encourage a debate over substantive details. Vague “feel good” principles work much better.

Still, we are asked to accept that they do not know what “conserve” means, specifically.

Even more disconcerting is the promise of financial incentives they are dangling before America’s private landowners to keep working lands working that always come with federal strings. At the same time, through a different branch of the government, they are recommending redrafting the tax code to increase the estate tax on land when passed onto heirs.

Of course, they promise these will be conservation programs landowners can enroll in “voluntarily.” However, when landowners have no choice but to sell the land to pay the estate tax, or sign up with a land trust to reduce the tax burden, can you really call this action “voluntary?” Land trusts will be the greatest recipient of these new promises and proposals.

The Administration needs to encumber private lands with these conservation programs to create the federal nexus that gives them the ability to control the use and purpose of our nation’s private lands.

As Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts recently pointed out:

Earlier this year, U.S. News and World Report ranked Nebraska as the sixth-best state in the nation for the quality of our natural environment. By contrast, the State of Delaware—which President Biden represented as a U.S. Senator from 1973 to 2009—was sixth-worst overall, and #47 for pollution. The State of California, where Vice President Kamala Harris held statewide office for a decade, ranked #35 and was fourth-worst in the country for air and water quality. Why would Nebraskans cede responsibility for our natural resources to leaders of states who have done a poor job of managing their own environment?”

Why would any American?

The Report is misdirection, and it is disingenuous. To protect our lands and livelihoods, American landowners will need to be less like Chamberlain, more like Churchill, and call 30 x 30 the “land grab” it is.

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