When you think about the 2016 U.S. presidential election, land management and conservation might not be the first issue that comes to your mind. But it’s an important one, especially for our western states where major portions of land are federally controlled. The concept of land management and conservation doesn’t just apply to our national parks, forests and monuments, it also determines how any portion of land, no matter how small, controlled by the Bureau of Land Mangement is used. As our air, water and land quality become increasingly compromised in the face of climate change and massive human pollution, it’s become crucial to ensure that our country’s public land does not go misused.
Here’s what you need to know about where the four major presidential candidates stand when it comes to these important issues.
Hillary Clinton, Democrat
Hillary Clinton’s conservation and land management platform promotes increased spending for the management and diversification of our national parks and landmarks, as well as the workforce that maintains them. Clinton wants to increase the amount of renewable energy that’s produced on these lands and she strongly opposes the privatization of them.
According to a white paper published on her campaign website, Clinton plans to replace the 1965 Land and Water Conservation Fund with the American Parks Trust Fund, which would expand local, state, and national recreation opportunities. It would also decrease the maintenance backlog for public lands while increasing the number of grants for urban parks. Lastly, Clinton’s American Parks Trust Fund would allow Tribal Nations to be directly eligible — for the first time ever — for funding that would restore their homelands.
Another part of Clinton’s platform focuses on the local level. She plans to revitalize 3,000 city parks within 10 years. According to the same campaign report mentioned above, Clinton would invest $40 million annually into the Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery Program, a program established in 1978 in order to fund rehabilitation facilities in urban areas. Ten million dollars would also go to the federally funded volunteer service agency, AmeriCorps, annually.
Lastly, Clinton’s platform on land management and conservation focuses on the resources contained on these public lands, including timber, fossil fuels, minerals, and water. According to her report, Clinton plans to increase the country’s investment in water conservation initiatives. She wants to work with local agencies in order to modernize infrastructure, efficiency, and conservation across regions. Clinton also plans to triple the funding for WaterSMART, the Bureau of Reclamation’s major water conservation grant program — this would be in an effort to modernize infrastructure and restoration projects. Clinton’s plan includes a promise of a tenfold increase in renewable energy production on our public lands. In her white paper, Clinton claims that she doesn’t want to develop the oil and gas industry in the Arctic Ocean. She’ll continue to use national forests for timber, but only in a sustainable manner.
Donald Trump, Republican
Unlike many members of the Republican Party, Donald Trump doesn’t agree with handing federal lands over to the states — this belief comes from an interview with Field and Stream Magazine. However, according to an op-ed in the Reno Gazette-Journal, Trump does think that the Bureau of Land Management — an agency within the Dept. of the Interior that manages 247.3 million acres — is overly controlled by special interest groups. In his Field and Stream Magazine interview, Trump states that he wants to improve and change the way we maintain federally controlled lands.
When it comes to developing energy resources on federal lands, Trump has pledged to save the coal industry, approve the Keystone XL gas pipeline, revoke federal limitations on energy development on some public lands, and withdraw from the Paris Global Climate Agreement — an agreement with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that finally takes action on greenhouse gas emissions. According to his America First Energy Plan, Trump wants to open federal lands for offshore and onshore drilling, eradicate the ban on coal leasing, and open shale energy deposits.
Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party
Dr. Jill Stein’s land management and conservation platform focuses primarily on renewable energy and climate change. Her stance includes an end to what is termed as ‘destructive energy extraction,’ which includes fracking and offshore drilling. This plan focuses on redirecting research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy sources instead. Additionally, Dr. Stein wants to eliminate nuclear power and nuclear and fossil fuel subsidies. She plans to impose a greenhouse gas tax on all polluters.
To replace our country’s current fossil fuel infrastructure, Dr. Stein wants to create a smart energy grid, which would be powered by a variety of renewable resources. Her plan would be to transition to 100% clean energy by 2030 and create 20 million jobs in the process.
On public lands, she plans to ban neonicotinoids, a systemic agricultural insecticide resembling nicotine, and other pesticides which threaten pollinating insect species such as butterflies and bees. She also takes a strong opposing stance on GMOs and other pesticides.
Gary Johnson, Libertarian
According to Gary Johnson’s campaign website, he believes national park lands and public lands should be protected — within reason — by the government. His platform denounces the government’s involvement in developing clean energy resources. Instead, Johnson plans to encourage the open market, and he expects consumers to show their support for clean energy by making choices that support innovation in their communities. His platform espouses that regulations and taxes needlessly harm and do not protect our environment from climate change and pollution.