A total of 15 governors have asked President Joe Biden to clarify a part of an executive order he signed on climate change. At least one governor believes it signals an attempt from the government to take some of the now-private lands under federal conservation.
The executive order in question features two paragraphs that instruct the secretaries of several departments to create a report and propose steps the government should take “to achieve the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.”
Furthermore, “[t]he Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, through the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality shall, as appropriate, solicit input from State, local, Tribal, and territorial officials, agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, and other key stakeholders in identifying strategies that will encourage broad participation in the goal of conserving 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030,” the order reads.
For comparison, only around 12% of the land and water is now under federal conservation.
The governors want the administration to explain whether this means that one of its goals is to place a third of the land under federal conservation.
One of the governors who has raised concerns about Biden’s 30×30 program, Gov. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, said they have reached out to the Biden administration “for more information.”
“What we’ve asked from the administration is for more information, because their math doesn’t work,” he said on June 24,” The Epoch Times reports. “Either they’re going to fail to get to 30 percent, or they’re not telling us something else about how they’re going to get to 30 percent.”
Ricketts was referring to his executive order that would prevent the state government from backing federal conservation programs unless the governor agrees to it.
Ricketts and 14 other governors sent a letter to Biden back in April, asking for details about his 30×30 plan, and took issue with the administration’s failure to consult with the states regarding the plan.
“Some of us govern western states with massive amounts of lands in the categories mentioned (in the order) or other federal designations that should be considered as ‘conserved.’ We are deeply concerned about any effort to enlarge the federal estate or further restrict the use of public lands in our states,” they wrote in the letter, KOLN reports.
The plan would infringe on “the private property rights of our citizens and significantly harming our economies,” the letter adds. “We encourage your Administration to focus on better management of the lands the federal government already controls and to be more proactive in working with the states.”
Ricketts reportedly said the administration has no responded to the governors’ letter. However, Biden’s Council on Environmental Quality issues a report in May, which came after the letter, that was expected to reveal more details about the plan. But the report does not answer many of the questions surrounding Biden’s 30×30 plan and even fails to define “conservation.”
The report does note that “there is a strong stewardship ethic among America’s fishers, farmers, ranchers, forest owners, and other private landowners” to conserve the land and that the plan might not require additional laws.
“Though President Biden’s national conservation goal is ambitious, it can be achieved using the wide array of existing tools and strategies,” it says.
“I don’t believe that the federal government is going to try to come out and just take land, through eminent domain, for example,” Ricketts said. “I believe the way they’re going to try and cover these goals is by creating more ways that they can regulate you and take your private property rights away.”
Ricketts says he fears that the government might trick people into signing a contract that would include them giving up some of the lands. Under such a contract, the farmers would likely still be able to use the land but if they want to make some changes, the government could jump in on the decision, he warned.
“Nebraska land is currently 97 percent private. Subjecting 30 percent of it to federal restrictions “would be devastating for small towns and rural communities,” Ricketts said.
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