Governor Pete Ricketts took unprecedented action and signed the “Stop 30 x 30 – Protect our Land and Water,” Executive Order 21-08 on June 24, 2021.
The order directs Nebraska state agencies to take specific steps to prevent the implementation of President Biden’s 30 x 30 initiative launched January 27th, through the federal climate crisis executive order, 14008. Nebraska is the first state to issue such an order, sending a clear message to the Biden Administration that Nebraskans will continue to manage their land without federal intrusion.
“What we’ve asked for from the Biden administration is for more information, because their math doesn’t work,” Ricketts said. “Either they’re going to fail to get to 30% or they’re not telling us something else about how they’re going to get to 30% and that’s what makes us concerned here in Nebraska.” (Nebraska Public Media)
The order states the “federal conservation mandates have no constitutional basis, and have great potential to devastate Nebraska’s economy,” and that the “federal 30 percent conservation goal would interfere with the States’ constitutional and traditional power over land and water uses.” It also notes that “the people of Nebraska oppose federal overreach and want to protect our state’s land and water to continue to make them more productive.”
The Nebraska Department of Revenue is directed to host workshops for county officials to understand the tax consequences of conservation easements and the counties’ authority to approve or deny such easements. Nebraska has within their code a requirement that all conservation and preservation easements must receive a special use permit from the County, which can be denied if they conflict with the county’s plan.
Cherry County Commissioner Tanya Storer spoke at the signing and commented on the importance of Counties exercising this authority to protect the tax base and prevent further encroachment of federal ties that can impair the agricultural use of the lands.
Conservation easements are identified by the Biden Administration as a primary tool that will be used to place more private land under the 30 x 30 federal initiative. The Administration has stated that 12 percent of America’s lands are currently permanently protected, and identify areas such as wilderness, national parks and conservation easements in perpetuity on private lands as classifications within this category.
Governor Ricketts’ Order also prohibits all agencies from using discretionary funds or staff support for projects involving perpetual conservation easements.
Additionally, the Governor is placing an 18-month moratorium on adding any new regulations that expand the definition of endangered species, plants, or wildlife pursuant to state statute. At the signing, the Governor explained that the Biden Administration is refusing to address the States’ questions regarding implementation of 30 x 30, while offering conservation contracts to Nebraska’s landowners that include new endangered species restrictions. Therefore, he is placing a hold on endangered species expansion in the State.
The order also designates the Nebraska Agriculture Director as the States’ Coordinator for the Climate Task Force established by the Department of Interior (DOI). The task force is directed to coordinate with the States to “harmonize Federal and non-Federal actions.” (DOI Sec. Order 3399)
The Governor has been holding town hall meetings across Nebraska making sure rural areas are aware of the program and answering Nebraskan’s questions about the federal initiative. As a result, 42 counties in the State have now passed resolutions opposing 30 x 30.
Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue, Cherry County Commissioner Tanya Storer and American Stewards Margaret Byfield all spoke at the signing in support of the Governor’s actions.
“Governor Ricketts has been an active leader on this issue as the first Governor in the nation to oppose 30 x 30, leading a letter signed by 15 Governor’s pressing for answers, and today, issuing this order to protect Nebraska from federal overreach,” commented Byfield. “However, his actions go beyond the borders of Nebraska and help every producer in America that provides our food, fiber, energy and minerals by standing up to this federal land grab.”