CA Land Protection Legislation Could Be an Early Win for President’s Initiative

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, President Biden issued a series of executive orders to take swift climate action. This included an Executive Order on “30×30,” a commitment to protecting 30% of our nation’s lands and waters by 2030. The 30×30 Executive Order follows on the heels of California Governor Newsom’s statewide commitment to 30×30 last year.

The President also signed an Executive Order that halts new oil and gas leasing on federal lands. For Californians, this executive order is a welcome response to the Trump Administration’s efforts to hand over more than 1 million acres of public lands to fossil fuel industries in the Central Valley and on the Central Coast.

Together, these executive orders will help address the climate crisis by reducing carbon emissions on public lands, protecting landscapes that help mitigate the effects of climate change, and increasing access to nature.

California leaders are highlighting that Congress can take action on 30×30 by protecting public lands and rivers in our state. During the last Congress, the House of Representatives passed legislation championed by Reps. Carbajal, Chu, Huffman and Schiff to protect over 1 million acres of public lands and over 500 miles of rivers in California. This effort was similarly championed in the Senate by Vice President Harris and Senator Feinstein.

In addition to meeting 30×30 goals and fighting climate change, this legislation will ensure equitable access to public lands, benefit public health, and support economic recovery statewide. Advocates are eager for this legislation to move forward as part of the 30×30 effort. They are calling for expedited consideration of the bills and urging Senator Padilla to champion this locally driven effort moving forward.

Below are quotes from leaders marking this moment:

Rue Mapp, Founder and CEO, Outdoor Afro
“We believe all people in our nation deserve to have the opportunity to experience the joys and health benefits of time spent outside. We’re thrilled that President Biden and Vice President Harris in the opening days of their Administration have prioritized outdoor access for all. We have the right to gather joyfully and peacefully in the outdoors. This 30×30 commitment is a unique opportunity to center a more inclusive and equitable vision of outdoor access for the nation. We look forward to building on this momentum with President Biden and Vice President Harris to dismantle America’s systemic barriers to nature and the outdoors.”

Mary Creasman, CEO, California League of Conservation Voters
“We are relieved that President Biden is taking bold action right out of the gate on the climate crisis. Halting oil and gas drilling on public lands and protecting 30% of our lands and waters by 2030 are critical and no-brainer first steps to protecting our health and our future. We will be pushing to ensure there is more to come, and that the oil and gas drilling changes become permanent.”

Kate Hoit, California State Director, Vet Voice Foundation
“President Biden’s executive orders signal a new day for our public lands. Halting oil and gas drilling on public lands and setting aside more of our wild spaces for conservation is the leadership we need to tackle climate change and keep Americans healthy. Veterans and military families have long-championed our public lands and environment. We understand the importance they serve as spots of national healing and solemnity and we understand our responsibility to protect them for future generations. We look forward to working with President Biden, Vice President Harris, and our California elected officials to continue this momentum and protect California’s public lands.”

Maite Arce, President and CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation
“HAF applauds President Biden taking bold actions that address the climate emergency and its impact on Latino communities by imposing a moratorium on new federal oil and gas leasing, committing to protecting 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, and investing in environmental justice. Congress should show leadership in fulfilling these goals by passing legislation that would protect California lands and waters, increase access to nature, and bring public health, economic, and equity benefits to underserved Latino communities statewide.”

Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director, Climate Resolve
“California and the nation will benefit from the Biden Administration’s firm commitment to fixing our broken federal oil and gas leasing regime. Fossil fuel production on public lands causes about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. Taken in tandem with the Administration’s commitment to conserving 30% of the U.S. by 2030, today is a powerful signal that our public lands can be a solution to the climate crisis, not a contributor. The time to protect our California public lands is now.”

Belinda Faustinos, Executive Director, Nature for All
“The people in the Los Angeles region are desperate for access to green space. This is particularly true for communities of color, who have the least access to parks and open space. In many developed urban areas the opportunities to restore rivers, wetlands and wildlife connectivity is critically important for community and climate resiliency.”

Chris Morrill, Executive Director, CalWild
“The 30×30 national goal is both ambitious and achievable. We applaud the Biden Administration for prioritizing land and water conservation as a key tool in fighting climate change and preserving biodiversity. California, as a biodiversity hotspot, will be a leader in this effort and we are ready to show the nation and the world how to get it done.”

Jeff Kuyper, Executive Director, Los Padres ForestWatch
“The last administration left iconic landscapes, popular trails, precious water supplies, and critical habitat on California’s Central Coast vulnerable to industrialization, and threatened communities that already suffer some of the country’s worst air quality with more oil development. The Biden administration has taken a great first step toward protecting our nation’s public lands in a way that addresses the climate crisis. We look forward to working with Congress to follow its lead by passing lasting protections for our last wild places.”

Michael J. Madrigal, President, Native American Land Conservancy
“The Native American Land Conservancy (NALC) acquires, protects, and preserves sacred ancestral lands that are critical to tribal communities in the Mojave Desert area. The NALC applauds the Biden Administration for prioritizing land and water conservation and continuing to uphold its government to government relationship with Tribes as well as honoring tribal consultation.”

Louis Geltman, Policy Director, Outdoor Alliance
“30×30 is an ambitious goal that the outdoor community enthusiastically supports, and we are tremendously grateful for President Biden’s leadership. Protected lands and waters are crucial for protecting biodiversity and mitigating the effects of climate change. They also support the experiences that make people’s lives better. California has been a leader on 30×30, and our community looks forward to working with the state and the Biden administration to help advance this vision through an approach that protects both the natural world and the communities that rely on and benefit from its protection.”

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