Garfield County commissioners to chime in on Biden admin’s new climate, land conservation goals
Potential impacts go beyond ban on federal land energy leasing, commissioners say
Garfield County commissioners are likely to weigh in once again on federal lands policy, following the recent flurry of executive orders by President Joe Biden furthering his administration’s climate crisis plan goals.
A temporary ban on oil and gas leasing on federal lands is a chief concern given Garfield County’s reliance on tax revenues from that industry, commissioners said.
Beyond that, the lofty land conservation goals included in the plan are worrisome, as well, commissioners said during their regular meeting earlier this week.
“More than 450 different governments and individuals signed on to support this, and we need that many to say they don’t support it,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.
“This just continues to take Western counties to their knees, where we won’t have economic development … from use of our public lands,” he said.
Biden’s “30×30” plan aimed at conserving 30% of the nation’s lands by the year 2030 has other impacts beyond restrictions on energy development, all three commissioners concurred.
“This is a political promise done by the Biden administration for the environmental groups,” Commissioner John Martin said. “They are holding the president to his promise … and that’s what we will be up against … we’ll have no fossil fuels whatsoever.”
So far, there are no federal dollars allocated to try to achieve the land conservation goals, Jankovsky offered.
“To take 30% of our public lands and basically sterilize them by not having them available for logging, minerals, roads, recreation … I just can’t go along with that,” Jankovsky said.
He added that it’s unclear whether cattle grazing would be protected under the plan, and even the move to place conservation easements on private land is concerning.
“These conservation easements could go against the economic goals of the county, if they involve resource lands and you can’t get to those minerals,” he said, suggesting maybe county approval of conservation easements be required through land-use codes.
Area conservation groups have been among the supporters of the new president’s conservation and climate protection goals.
“President Biden’s inspiring 30×30 pledge willsupport additional protected lands and waters across Colorado and centers environmental justice in our most at-risk communities,” said Will Roush, executive director for the Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop.
“We’re also excited to continue advocating for permanent protections of the Thompson Divide through the CORE Act under the current administration,” Roush said of the proposed legislation that was just reintroduced Wednesday by Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, both of Colorado.
County commissioners directed Deputy County Manager Fred Jarman to draw up a resolution for consideration in the near future stating the county’s opposition to the 30×30 plan.
Commissioner Mike Samson said Garfield County’s resolution could be used as a boilerplate for other Western United States counties and municipalities with similar concerns to issue statements, as well.
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Imagine Glenwood and The City of Glenwood Springs is slated to host a virtual town hall at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11.