Through a series of regulatory rollbacks, new policies and shifting priorities, public land management in the United States has changed dramatically under President Donald Trump.
The Department of Interior, currently led by former oil lobbyist David Bernhardt, has ramped up fossil fuel production and eliminated environmental protections on federal lands. Oil and gas drilling permits increased by nearly 40 percent from 2017 to 2018. The Trump Administration has also rolled back an Obama-era regulation designed to limit methane emissions from oil and gas operations. Even national monuments, which are a category of protected areas similar to a national park, have been under attack as Trump seeks to open up these areas to resource extraction.
Against this backdrop, some Democratic candidates for president are unveiling bold environmental agendas that offer a stark contrast to the current administration’s industry-first policies. A prime example is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who published her plan for public lands on April 15 in a post on Medium.
Stressing the importance of public lands in fighting climate change and pledging to ban new fossil fuel leases, Warren said: “It is wrong to prioritize corporate profits over the health and safety of our local communities. That’s why on my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling – a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands.”
And Warren said she would set a goal of generating 10 percent of overall electric power from renewable sources, offshore or on public lands.
She also promised to reinstate the Obama methane rule and clean water rule, as well as restore protections for nation monuments that were targeted by Trump.
Additionally, she sets forth an important vision calling for the creation of a 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps of 10,000 young people and veterans to help care for public lands.
While she is best known for her work protecting consumer rights and fighting Wall Street, Warren has a strong track record on environmental issues, holding a 99 percent lifetime score with the League of Conservation voters. Warren, who was first elected to the Senate in 2012, co-sponsored the “Keep it in the Ground Act” in 2015, which seeks to ban new fossil fuel leases on public lands and in federal waters. She has also been an outspoken critic of the Keystone XL pipeline that will transport some of the planet’s dirtiest fossil fuels from Canada through the United States. More recently, she co-sponsored Green New Deal legislation proposed by New York Representative and fellow Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey.
On the campaign trail, Warren has called for ending fossil fuel subsidies, reinvesting that money in green energy and banning offshore drilling. As one of the Senate’s most vocal advocates for tackling corruption in Washington, Warren says that the reason the United States is leading in the wrong direction on climate change is because of corruption, not ignorance.
Warren has distinguished herself with her detailed policy proposals designed to build a progressive future. Her recent plan for public lands is consistent with her strong record as an advocate for the climate.