Elizabeth Warren Has A Fever, And The Only Prescription Is THIS POLICY!
Elizabeth Warren policy proposal: Public Lands Edition!
In yet another policy proposal -- she just can't seem to stop herself! -- Elizabeth Warren pledges to fix the damage Donald Trump has done to America's public lands, and then some. Restoring the national monuments Trump cut back to almost nothing (so they could be mined and drilled for oil ) is just a start. Warren promises to sign an executive order her first day in office to end offshore oil drilling. Might not be quite as sexy as taxing the super rich, but it's a beautiful proposal for class warfare on interests that have been despoiling our natural resources and making the planet uninhabitable. Plus, it's going to piss off the Bundy family no end, so that's nice, too.
Warren points out that 25 percent of the nation's total land is public, but the public is often the last priority when it comes to how that land is used:
The Trump administration is busy selling off our public lands to the oil, gas and coal industries for pennies on the dollar — expanding fossil fuel extraction that destroys pristine sites across the country while pouring an accelerant on our climate crisis.
It doesn't have to be this way. We must not allow corporations to pillage our public lands and leave taxpayers to clean up the mess.
Since fossil fuel extraction on those lands accounts for " nearly a quarter of all US greenhouse gas emissions," Warren would use her presidential power to knock that shit off, with a first-day executive order putting a stop to it (OK, fine existing contracts can't be eliminated):
I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling — a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands.I'd also reinstate the methane pollution rule to limit existing oil and gas projects from releasing harmful gases that poison our air, and reinstitute the clean water rule to protect our lakes, rivers, and streams, and the drinking water they provide. [emphasis in original]
What's more, Warren would work to use public land to promote clean energy, with a goal of providing 10 percent of US electricity from wind, solar and geothermal on public lands or offshore.
She also promises to restore the full boundaries of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, which were drastically reduced under a Ryan Zinke plan to hand over huge tracts of land to uranium mining. Warren is quite clear on the "public" in public lands, and opposes turning over national forests or wildlife refuges to state control, which in practice would mean to moneyed interests and let's not pretend otherwise. We have a feeling Warren wasn't courting the radical antigovernment rancher vote anyway. We have to confess, it sure would be nice if there were a way to lock that in -- it would suck to see the national monuments contract every damn time a Republican's in office -- assuming the party survives its current criminal leadership.
In addition, while her proposal doesn't mention the Green New Deal (she's a cosponsor), Warren offers a VERY New Deal idea: bring back a form of FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps, which provided jobs maintaining public lands:
I will recruit 10,000 young people and veterans to jumpstart a 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps — and increase the budget of AmeriCorps' one-year fellowship program to fund it. This will create job opportunities for thousands of young Americans caring for our natural resources and public lands, deepening their lifelong relationship with the great outdoors .
Finally, Warren would make access to the national parks free to all Americans, because damn it, they're our parks. Says Warren,
There's no better illustration of how backwards our public lands strategy is than the fact that today, we hand over drilling rights to fossil fuel companies for practically no money at all — and then turn around and charge families who make the minimum wage more than a day's pay to access our parks.
She notes that maintenance in the national parks (and other public lands) has been deferred for far too long -- it's one of those things previous administrations have found easy to cut or put off -- and promises to "fully fund our public land management agencies and eliminate the infrastructure and maintenance backlog" on all public lands. That backlog has grown so huge, however, that the timeframe for fixing it would be during her first term, because there's a hell of a lot for all those teenagers to be put to work on.
It's a pretty impressive vision, and sure to piss off the extraction industries. Good. And while Warren's plan doesn't mention this specifically, wouldn't it be nice to have America's wildlife policy not set by big game hunters anymore?
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