This week, Governor Pete Ricketts and 14 other Governors submitted a joint letter to President Biden regarding his executive order on the climate issued January 27, 2021. The President’s executive order set a goal of restricting “at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030” (30 x 30). Currently, about 97% of land in Nebraska is privately owned.
In their letter, the Governors reminded the Biden-Harris Administration that it lacks the authority to pursue the President’s 30 x 30 goal. “[We] are not aware of any constitutional or statutory authority for the President, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or any other federal agency to set aside and permanently conserve 30 percent of all land and water in the United States,” they wrote. “Nowhere in the laws of our nation is the authority delegated by Congress to the President or executive agencies to unilaterally change the policies governing land use in America.”
The Governors warned that pursuing the President’s 30 x 30 plan would violate property rights and hurt the economy. “Obtaining the 30 percent goal from state or private lands would require your Administration to condemn or otherwise severely limit the current productive uses of such lands, infringing on the private property rights of our citizens and significantly harming our economies.”
The Governors also called on President Biden to be transparent about how he intends to achieve his goal. “Two months have passed since the announcement of the new program and neither the states nor the American people have been provided with any information regarding the meaning, objectives, or implementation of the 30 x 30 program including the fundamental question of what lands will be vulnerable for increased restrictions or condemnation.” In their letter, the Governors submitted specific questions for the President to answer to provide greater clarity about the 30 x 30 program.
Collectively, the Governors asserted the duty and prerogative of states to manage their own lands and waters for the well-being of their citizens—free from federal interference. “It is…our responsibility to ensure that certain federal lands, and all state lands, are being productively used by our citizens to provide the food, fiber, energy and minerals our nation needs for a robust economy and our national defense. It is precisely because we depend on our lands to be available for future generations to enjoy and use [that], without greater input into this initiative, we must resist implementation of the 30 x 30 program.”