The U.S. holds more than 600 million acres of stunning public lands in trust for the American public. These beloved places, ranging from the granite spires of the Black Hills National Forest to the mystical Mojave National Preserve, are home to diverse native wildlife, inspire wonder in people from around the world who visit them and provide clean air, clean water and unsurpassed recreation opportunities to our communities.
— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) March 1, 2017
Despite the irreplaceable value these places hold, in recent years, a concerted effort has been driven forward by certain senators and U.S. representatives to seize, dismantle, destroy and privatize our public lands. These lawmakers are backed by fossil fuel corporations and other extractive industries that already squeeze massive profits out of America’s public lands and only want more.
In order to realize this goal, every year these corporations push millions of dollars toward federal lawmakers to motivate them to introduce and pass legislation that would have the effect of either fully privatizing public lands or opening them up to unfettered extraction and development.
The Center for Biological Diversity issued a report that analyzed 132 bills that were introduced in the past three congressional sessions, between 2011 and 2016, and identified the lawmakers who authored and cosponsored the greatest number of these bills. The list of “Public Lands Enemies” that emerged includes nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives and six U.S. senators from eight western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
These 15 Public Lands Enemies are:
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
- Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah, 1st District)
- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
- Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz., 4th District)
- Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
- Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah, 2nd District)
- Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska, At Large)
- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
- Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho, 1st District)
- Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah, 3rd District)
- Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev., 2nd District)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
- Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M., 2nd District)
- Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif., 4th District)
- Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)
In bending to private industry interest, these lawmakers actively spurn the majority of American voters, including in their states, who polls have shown want to see public hands left in public lands and preserved for future generations.
With the West already losing to development one football field’s worth of natural areas every two and a half minutes, these shared lands are more important than ever. At the start of the 115th Congress, we want to bring attention to these Public Lands Enemies and their plans to seize and privatize public lands. Everyone who cares about our national forests, wildlife refuges, deserts, national parks, national monuments, wild rivers, wilderness and areas of historic, scientific and cultural significance needs to be watching these elected officials vigilantly and opposing their actions every step of the way.