Pete Buttigieg Unveils Plan For Protecting America's Public Lands

Chris D'Angelo

Pete Buttigieg on Friday became just the second Democratic presidential candidate to release a specific plan for safeguarding America’s public lands and tapping their potential for combating global climate change. 

The five-page policy vision sets a goal of protecting 30% of all U.S. lands and waters by 2030 — a target that the United Nations set last month to reverse biodiversity loss — and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions on federal lands by the end of the decade by banning new fossil fuel leases, dramatically boosting renewable energy and prioritizing ecosystem health so lands can absorb and store carbon.

Although the proposal doesn’t mention President Donald Trump by name, it is a clear rebuke of his administration’s approach to federal land management. 

“America’s public lands power local economies, preserve sensitive habitats and cultural heritage, and protect our clean air and water,” the former South Bend, Indiana mayor said in a statement. “From Nevada’s Red Rock Recreation Area to Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to Cherokee National Forest, they define us as a nation and as a people; yet we are losing the battle to protect these natural and cultural wonders at an alarming rate.” 

In its push for so-called “energy dominance,” the Trump administration has slashed dozens of environmental rules and regulations, offered millions of federal acres for oil and gas for lease and proposed opening nearly all U.S. waters to offshore drilling. He and his team drew fresh outrage this month as the public learned they are blasting and bulldozing sensitive areas of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, including sacred Native American sites, to make way for Trump’s border wall. The administration has waived numerous environmental laws to streamline wall construction.

In ways, Buttigieg’s plan mirrors that of fellow 2020 presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who was the first to lay...

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