Obama administration rushes to conserve public lands

Grand canyon
CC BY 2.0 John Fowler/flickr

The president is quickly working through a number of conservation safeguards.

It’s no secret that President Obama has been a champion for land and water; he’s protected more than 265 million acres via executive action, which is more than any other president. And now for a last hurrah, the administration is quietly rushing through conservation safeguards for large swaths of public land before the next administration takes over, reports Oliver Milman for The Guardian. Milman writes:

On Monday [November 21] the US Department of the Interior banned gold mining on 30,000 acres of land near the northern entrance of Yellowstone national park. This follows announcements last week that barred drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska and a brokered settlement that cancelled 32,000 acres of mining leases on Montana land considered by the Blackfeet tribe as “like a church, a divine sanctuary”.

Obama’s administration has also cancelled 25 oil and gas leases in Colorado since Trump’s election win and further executive action is expected before the real estate magnate takes office in January.

There is also talk of some type of protection for Bears Ears landscape in Utah, Gold Butte in Nevada and the greater Grand Canyon area, in order to protect against uranium mining.

While the next president can come in with executive actions of his own, environmentalists are hopeful that there is enough momentum to hold some of the more environmentally harmful actions at bay.

“One of the vulnerabilities of executive action is that the next executive can act,” says Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America. “But no one can work so fast that they can reverse all the action we’ve had over the past eight years. I’m worried, yes, but the public is with us, the science is with us and we will mobilize support for this.”

See some of the work Obama has already done and more about the new executive actions below.

Tags: Environmental Policy | Mining | Oil

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