WYOMING – Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney introduced legislation into Congress last week that would protect property rights from potential federal overreach that could comes as part of the Biden administration’s 30x30 initiative.
“The uncertainty created from the Biden administration’s executive orders and their potential public land grabs are already making life more difficult for people across Wyoming,” she said. “To counter the negative ramifications of these overreaching policies, the legislation I’ve introduced will protect the private property rights of individuals across our state who need access to these lands to provide for themselves and their families, while also ensuring that the current administration’s political agenda will not undermine the interests of farmers and ranchers in Wyoming.”
President Joe Biden announced the 30x30 initiative months ago. That aims to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by the end of the decade. Part of the “America the Beautiful” report released from the administration outlined steps to restore biodiversity, address climate change and make natural spaces more accessible to Americans.
The initiative’s introduction months ago was met with cautious optimism by some in Wyoming, including Gov. Mark Gordon. But earlier this week, Gordon voiced his support for the legislation Cheney introduced.
“It is critical that any conservation initiative be locally-based, cooperative and truly voluntary,” Gov. Gordon said. “Rep. Cheney’s bill ensures that any program is voluntary and recognizes the private property rights that are fundamental to Wyoming landowners.”
In Cheney’s bill, the section of Executive Order 14008 relating to tackling climate change would have no force or effect. The bill would also allow no agency to take action if solely authorized by reports or recommendations outlined by the executive order. It also wrote in that no entity shall mandate participation in the initiative.
The bill also stated the Department of the Interior shall pay the property tax amount assess on any private lands that are acquired as a result of the program annually to the county where the private property is located.
Jim Willox, president of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, supported the bill because it would allow counties to continue to generate revenue off private lands that may be sold.
In support of farmers and ranchers, Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna also issued a comment supporting this potential legislation. He said the state’s farmers and ranchers have operated for nearly six months with this initiative looming.
“The potential threats to private property rights and the multiple use of public lands have hindered producers in making needed decisions with positive long-term implications for their business and for our state,” Magagna stated. “Passage of this legislation will enable us to return to addressing natural resource management decisions based on sound science and economic analysis, not on political expediency.”
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland recently came to Wyoming as part of a western trip, which included highlighting parts of the initiative. She spoke at the Wind River Reservation, as well as Yellowstone National Park, during her visit.