This week, President Donald Trump is ordering a review of the past 21 years of his predecessors’ declarations of National Monuments. Yet before the Trump Administration announced its plans to the national media, we were following along as Nevada local leaders have expressed commitment to continue protecting our public lands. It’s another fascinating twist in the ongoing monumental fight to protect public lands.
Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order soon to review the past 21 years’ of National Monument designations from two Democratic Presidents (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) and one Republican President (George W. Bush). Earlier this month, leaked documents illuminated the Trump Administration’s desire to open more federal public lands to mining and fossil fuel extraction. The Trump Administration’s actions this month have generally confirmed environmentalists’ fears of a federal government that’s more hostile towards protecting sensitive public lands.
Against this backdrop, the State of Nevada may change its tune on protecting public lands.
In 2015, the Nevada Legislature endorsed a massive transfer of federal public lands to the state (SJR 1) and considered several other bills rejecting federal authority over these lands. In 2017, the Nevada Legislature is on track to pass multiple bills endorsing public lands protection.
Yesterday, the State Senate passed SB 413 to establish each last Saturday in September as “Public Lands Day”… And have the State of Nevada explicitly endorse keeping public lands publically owned and protected for the public’s benefit. The vote was 18-3, with only Senators Pete Goicoechea (R-Eureka), Don Gustavson (R-Reno), and James Settelmeyer (R-Minden) voting against. The Senate also passed SJR 12 on a 12-9 party-line vote to rescind 2015’s SJR 1.
The Assembly voted 27-15 (along party lines) tonight to pass AJR 13 to endorse Gold Butte National Monument. The Assembly voted 30-12 earlier today to pass AB 277 to limit development that encroaches upon protected areas like Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas and Black Rock Desert outside Reno.
Environmentalists are cheering their victories in Carson City… And making sure lawmakers in Washington know all about it.
During their town hall in Reno last week, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) claimed 2015’s SJR 1 as justification for his and U.S. Senator Dean Heller’s (R) campaign to privatize public lands. But when asked about public lands, Amodei signaled he will notice if the Nevada Legislature changes its tune. Now may be a good time for Rep. Amodei to check on the home front.
With a mixed bag of verdicts and mistrials in the Bundy trial and several prominent Utah Republicans continuing to fight against Bears Ears National Monument (which then President Barack Obama designated alongside Gold Butte last December), Nevada local leaders hope a clear endorsement of public lands protection will signal to the Trump Administration and Nevada’s Congressional delegation that the Silver State wants to keep public lands in public hands.