Senators Urge Interior to Protect Western Wild Lands as Part of Climate Strategy
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently sent a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland urging her department to designate new wilderness study areas as part of the Biden administration’s goal of protecting 30 percent of public lands and waters by 2030. That crucial goal simply isn’t possible without the robust participation of the Department of the Interior, which is the nation’s largest land manager.
Joining Sen. Durbin on the letter were six other senators: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
“Our remote lands are overlooked sometimes in conversations about addressing the climate crisis, but their contributions will be crucial. Public lands not only support complex ecosystems, but also can sequester carbon and make areas more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” the senators wrote in their letter.
Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA
Biden’s Leasing Pause, One Year Later
It’s now been a year since President Biden issued his Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. Among other things, the order placed a pause on oil and gas leasing on federal public lands and committed the United States to a ten-year goal of conserving 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
At the time, SUWA called the leasing moratorium “a common sense and desperately needed step to right the ship and chart a more thoughtful, climate conscious path forward as our nation Builds Back Better.” Not surprisingly, Utah Governor Spencer Cox and pro-drilling groups such as the Western Energy Alliance immediately launched an aggressive campaign claiming the pause would have devastating effects on Utah’s rural economy.
So what actually happened? In short, those dire predictions proved wildly inaccurate. To learn just how inaccurate they were and why, we invite you to scroll through our story map, The Pause on New Oil & Gas Leasing in Utah: One Year Later (and share it with friends).
And if podcasts are more your style, listen to our latest episode of Wild Utah: Making Progress on Oil & Gas Reform.
Black History Is Also Environmental History
This Black History Month, we’re reflecting on the many ways Black stories have been left out of the public lands discussion both nationally and here in Utah. The Black community has a strong history and present-day role in leading environmental efforts, including significant contributions to climate and public lands scholarship and activism. Below we share a sampling of resources we hope you’ll find illuminating and inspiring.
- Who Gets Left Out of the ‘Great Outdoors’ Story? (New York Times, 11/4/2021)
- ‘Which parks aren’t relevant to black history?’ A black former park ranger talks about diversity on public lands (High Country News, 5/23/2014)
- Reclaiming the Wilderness (Earth Island Journal, Autumn 2012)
- Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney
- Black Utah: Stories from a Thriving Community (Utah Black Chamber)
Websites and Other Resources
Hot off the Press: SUWA’s 2021 Annual Report
For those of us working to defend public lands, 2021 was a year of enormous transitions: from one presidential administration to another, from exhausting defensive work to forward-looking advocacy, from holding the line to building new momentum. Our just released annual report provides a look back at the challenges we faced and the significant achievements your support made possible.
Resolve to Defend the Redrock Every Month of the Year
If you’re looking for a convenient, hassle-free way to help SUWA over the long term, please consider our monthly giving program. Monthly giving of any amount is easy and secure. It includes all the benefits of a SUWA membership, and your sustaining support provides SUWA with reliable, year-round funding for our legal, legislative, field, and organizing work.
Is protecting the redrock worth $5 or $10 a month to you? That adds up to $60 or $120 a year, which goes a long way to helping keep your public lands wild. For more details or to join as a sustaining member, please visit our website at suwa.org/monthly.