December 20, 2021, the White House released its “Year One Report – America the Beautiful” to update the progress made towards the President’s 30 x 30 initiative launched by Executive Order on January 27th. It is a laundry list of primarily small sized actions, while still failing to address the most pressing questions American’s have about the program.
We are still waiting for answers.
It ends with the expected climate crisis narrative, which, if valid, would require much bolder actions than what is presented. It also attempts to paint a picture more reminiscent of the last scene in The Lion King, where beast and prey sing in harmony, while ignoring reality. The people who own, steward, and work the land want no part of Biden’s agenda.
The Report’s Fact Sheet posted on the White House website identifies nine States that are working towards the 30 x 30 goal. These are California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and New York. Florida is the only State in this group led by a Republican Governor.
It also links to the American Nature Campaign site, which lists the local officials, organizations and companies supporting the agenda. They show only 15 counties that have passed a resolution supporting the effort. That pales in comparison to the 130-plus counties officially opposing the agenda listed on ASL’s website.
While the White House Report praises its 30 x 30 efforts, it fails to deliver on any of the pressing questions that most concern Americans. The Task Force, once again, deferred defining what “conserving at least 30 percent” of American’s lands means, just as it failed to do in the first accounting released last May.
The first report stated the initiative would “conserve and restore” the lands, not “protect” the lands although they did not define the difference. Now in this new report, the position has shifted once again, using the terms “protect, conserve and restore,” throughout the narrative as if they all mean the same.
This second report also fails to clearly state what lands qualify, the level of protection necessary to qualify, and how much land has been added to the goal this year.
We’ve known from the beginning “permanently protecting” 30 percent of the lands and oceans is the international goal that drives the Biden agenda. This program is being implemented in partnership with the international community calling on all nations to return 30 percent of the lands and oceans to their natural state.
The day the program was announced, the Department of Interior Fact Sheet reported that 12 percent of the lands were permanently protected, indicating this was the level of protection to be achieved for 30 percent of the land. This figure comes from the U.S. Geologic Service (USGS) GAP Analysis, which has been meticulously cataloging the level of protection of lands for many years.
Recently, Department of Interior officials have stated that number is now 12.9 percent. Nevertheless, the 30 x 30 Year One Report backs away from providing any concrete, transparent or substantive measures by which the public can judge the validity of the program. They state:
“It also does not include a numerical summary of how much land is currently protected, conserved, or restored in the United States; the development of the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas will enable that reporting to occur in future annual progress reports.” (Page 7)
The Atlas is now expected to be revealed sometime next year. In the interim, we are to trust the Biden Administration and voluntarily enter into conservation programs without having any clarity as to whether or not they are meeting the Administration’s goals or will be counted towards the international 30 x 30 agenda.
The report is primarily an accounting of activities already initiated through prior authorized programs, the Great American Outdoors Act passed last session, plus new expenditures authorized through this year’s Infrastructure bill. For some of these items the Administration disclosed the costs to the American people, totaling a staggering $58 billion for a program so ill defined. And yet, the cost of many large sized actions the Report takes credit for are not disclosed, such as the Conservation Reserve Program, National Monument expansions, and Grants to non-profits to secure Conservation Easements. The real total is much greater.
We compiled a spreadsheet breaking down the costs disclosed and not disclosed in the report. Scanning through the items, you can discern how the Administration is using “all the tools in the toolbox,” as they promised Congress earlier this year. Every program is being retrofitted to implement 30 x 30, whether or not that was the original purpose intended by Congress.
For instance, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, enacted in 1976, directs the Bureau of Land Management to manage the federal lands for the purpose of multiple use and sustained yield. Today, however, these programs are prioritizing the climate crisis agenda and 30 x 30 goal.
This is true for other laws that regulate the land as well. Congress has not changed these laws to implement 30 x 30. The President has unilaterally decided to do this by Executive Order.
The Biden Administration promises that this first year is just the beginning, setting the stage for bolder action as we move towards 2030. A look at next year’s expenditures offer some previews.
In the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) budget alone, there are 37 mentions of appropriations to meet 30 x 30. The Bureau of Land Management budget contains 15 mentions while the U.S. Forest Service only references 30 x 30 in four places. This underscores the fact that they intend to use the FWS’s Endangered Species Act, the most powerful regulatory stick impacting land use, to implement 30 x 30. This agency has the power to restrict not only the lands owned by the federal government, but those owned by private citizens as well.
The White House ends the Report with a strong call for action to save nature, and therefore humanity. But the lofty narrative and high-sounding principles lack credibility as the Administration again fails to answer why it is necessary that we transform a nation founded on private property to one controlled by the administrative state.
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