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AG Derek Schmidt questions federal “30 by 30” provision, seeks assurance private property rights will be fully respected

Release Date: Apr 08, 2021

TOPEKA – (April 8, 2021) – A provision in a recent executive order from President Biden that seeks to have at least 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters in conservation by the year 2030 must be construed to fully protect private property rights and to preserve state and local authority over conservation measures, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.

Schmidt joined with Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson in a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland seeking assurances that the presidential directive will not be construed to tread on the rights of landowners.

“Landowners in our states have vested interests in conservation measures to ensure their land is protected for future generations,” the attorneys general wrote. “These decisions about the use of land and water, as well as appropriate conservation measures, are best made at the state and local level, and by individual landowners. America does not have, nor does it want, a centrally planned economy.”

The so-called “30 by 30” provision was included January 27 in Executive Order 13990, which ostensibly outlined the administration’s goals of addressing climate change. In particular, Section 216 of that executive order directs the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and the heads of other relevant agencies to submit a report to the National Climate Task Force recommending steps for achieving a goal of conserving at least 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030. The executive order is vague and does not specify what constitutes conservation or whether measures are to be voluntary or mandatory.

Kansas has already joined a multistate lawsuit challenging another provision of Executive Order 13990 that attempts to impose binding rules on federal agencies to calculate the “social costs” of greenhouse gases when promulgating federal regulations. That provision seeks to end-run Congress and the states, and threatens significant economic damage, especially in manufacturing, energy and agriculture sectors.

“Rest assured, we will be closely monitoring the actions taken in response to this presidential directive and will take action as necessary to protect private property rights and the role of states in land and water management decisions,” the attorneys general wrote about the 30 by 30 provision.

A copy of the letter to Haaland can be found at https://bit.ly/3t4IBsh.

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