Pete Buttigieg Releases A Plan to Conserve Nature

Last Friday, Mayor Pete Buttigieg revealed his presidential plan to protect public lands including a stated goal of protecting 30% of all U.S. lands and waters by 2030.

Goals of the proposal include:

  • Ensuring consistent and robust conservation funding for federal land management agencies, states, and tribes–including securing full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund,
  • Strengthening protections for existing public lands under threat of development from the oil, gas, and mining industries. Many of the areas have been opened for drilling by the Trump administration.
  • Refocusing the mandate of federal natural resource agencies to manage for conservation and to help solve climate change.
  • Restoring conservation laws rolled back by the Trump administration including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.
  • Prioritizing environmental justice, equitable access, and diverse representation across America’s public lands by ensuring that outdoor spaces are welcoming to marginalized communities. 
  • Creating a strong commitment to ocean conservation like sustainable fisheries, and the acceleration of responsibly sited offshore wind development.
  • Including Tribal governments in land management decisions as well as honoring Treaty and Trust responsibilities to Native American Tribes.
  • Working with farmers, ranchers and landowners to increase sustainable land use.
  • Work with ranchers, farmers, and private landowners to conserve working lands.

A Retort to Trump: The Buttigieg plan seeks to undo much of the grave damage the Trump administration has done to our public lands and waterways. As the Denver Post explained, the Trump administration has expanded access for oil and gas drilling on public lands and reversed a moratorium on federal-land coal mining that was issued in 2016 by Obama. And it is finalizing plans to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah.

As Buttigieg said in a tweet,

“Our public lands have shaped who we are as a country. They’re essential to our survival, yet special interests are pillaging these treasured spaces causing untold damage.”

Clean Water: In addition to conservation, this plan sets aside funding to ensure clean drinking water for all Americans. From the plan,

As described in Pete’s infrastructure plan, he will triple the amount of funding for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSmart program to catalyze innovation in wastewater reuse and water efficiency improvement and establish a Water Reuse Advisory Council. The Council will identify innovative models for water conservation and efficiency, such as the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s successful conservation and infrastructure improvement initiatives, and will help disseminate best practices nationwide.

Buttigieg includes a $90 billion investment to ensure safe drinking water infrastructure that will help replace all lead pipes in cities like Flint.

Why This Matters: Protecting 30% of nature by 2030 is a goal that’s been set by the UN and is integral to ensuring that our planet can sustain life as human populations increase. While there’s a lot in Buttigieg’s plan aside from conservation, it’s critical that presidential candidates are talking about nature in the context of their climate and environmental goals. 

This particular plan was released the day before the Nevada Caucuses in an effort to present a conservation goal tailored to Western state voters. While Buttigieg finished 3rd on Saturday, this plan (along with recently introduced Senate legislation) is a good roadmap for how the eventual Democratic nominee can incorporate 30 by 30 into his or her platform.

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