August 31, 2022
President Joe Biden’s “30 X 30” initiative threatens to be the biggest federal land grab since Congress passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Executive Order 14008 on “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” signed by President Biden on 27th January 2021, directs the Secretary of the Interior in section 216 “to achieve the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.”
Although roughly 640 million acres (or 27%) of America’s total land mass are already owned by the four federal land agencies, the Secretary of the Interior’s initial report, titled “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” makes it clear that 30 X 30 will target massive amounts of privately-owned land for government control as well as eliminating natural resource production (including oil and gas, hardrock minerals, timber, and livestock grazing) on National Forests and public lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Radical preservation groups and other proponents of 30 X 30 have stated emphatically that locking up the West and Alaska, where most of the federal lands are, is not sufficient; instead, they insist that 30% of each “eco-region” must be under federal land-use management. This will necessarily require regulating hundreds of millions of acres of private land.
Conservatives strongly oppose 30 X 30 for the following reasons:
- ∙Property rights and widespread ownership of private property are essential foundations of limited government and ordered liberty. The current extent of federal land ownership and of federal land-use controls already threatens these vital constitutional underpinnings. 30 X 30 constitutes another step on the regulatory road to serfdom.
- When government owns or controls most of the land in rural America, government then controls the rural economies and the lives of rural Americans. Rather than adding another layer of federal regulation over rural America, the President and the Congress should be repealing or reforming existing federal land-use controls and radically reducing the amount of land owned by the federal land agencies.
- The federal land agencies are more often than not terrible stewards of the environment. For example, the catastrophic wildfires that have destroyed millions of acres of forests in the West and the wildlife living there are fires that start and spread on federal land because of misguided preservationist policies. Private land owners, on the other hand, have strong incentives to take care of what they own through active management. Existing federal controls on private land, such as endangered species habitat designations, have created perverse incentives and thereby damaged the environment. Imposing another layer of federal land-use control can only lead to further environmental degradation.
- There is no existing legislative authority for 30 X 30, and the 117th Congress has taken no steps to authorize 30 X 30. No hearings have been held by the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction, and no bills to authorize a 30 X 30 program have been introduced. In fact, the only bill that has been introduced, by Representative Lauren Boebert, would prohibit implementation of 30 X 30.
We encourage all Americans to oppose this illegal, immense, and catastrophic expansion of federal control over our property and our lives.