Lucas opposes 'America the Beautiful' initiative
In February I began hosting town hall meetings, inviting those who call Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District home out to discuss the issues most pressing in Washington and at home in Oklahoma. While there is a lot happening across the nation, there was one topic that came up time and time again that greatly troubles me: President Biden’s 30 by 30 Initiative.
The Biden Administration’s 30 by 30 land grab stems from a May 2021 report entitled, “America the Beautiful” Initiative. This Initiative establishes a vague directive to put restrictions on at least 30% of the United States’ lands and waters by 2030.
Oklahomans- and those who call the West home- are proud conservationists and great stewards of the land. Stewardship of our land is a core tenet of Oklahoma’s values and is a part of the Oklahoma Standard. This passion for maintaining and developing the land has allowed for hundreds of thousands of rural communities to thrive- supporting agriculture, energy, recreation, and many other industries that are the driving force behind our rural economies.
These concerns raised during my town hall meetings, coupled with President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget, which requests $25.5 million to develop a Conservation and Stewardship Atlas to enact 30 by 30, causes me great concern. This is because of my belief that private property rights and healthy and resilient landscapes are the cornerstone of our Oklahoma way of life.
The “America the Beautiful” Initiative, coupled with President Biden’s irresponsible budget request, has made it abundantly clear that this administration cannot be trusted to protect landowners. Congress must realize that we cannot give those who support harmful initiatives like 30 by 30 any ability to erode private property rights.
It is because of this that I will not be supportive of legislation that I have cosponsored three times in my career-the Chisholm National Historic Trail and Western National Historic Trail Designation Act. When I supported this bill in 2005 and 2007 I did so because I was confident President George W. Bush would follow Congressional intent and uphold the landowner protections that were included in the text. It was only after I worked to expand those landowner protections that I cosponsored legislation again in April of 2021, a month before the current administration released their 30 by 30 plan. After that plan was released, I knew the Biden Administration could not be trusted to uphold Congressional intent in this space.
It was this concern that drove me to write to the Chairman of the House National Resources Committee, my friend and fellow Republican, Bruce Westerman urging him to refrain from sending to the floor of the U.S. House any legislation that would give the Biden Administration a foothold to encroach on the rights of private property owners. I also asked him to use the oversight authority of the committee to investigate the Administration’s 30 by 30 initiative.
House Republicans agree, Congress must hold the Biden Administration accountable and ensure it does not undermine private property rights, circumvent the multiple-use mandate, and lock up more land.
As I continue my town hall meetings in the coming months, I want to share with my fellow neighbors that I will fight to stop the Biden Administration from continuing its egregious federal land grab.
The notion set forth by President Biden and his Administration that we must protect 30% of America’s lands under a drastic "protected status" by 2030 is nothing short of encroaching on the rights of Americans - and House Republicans are determined to not let that happen.