A Controversial New Rule Will Allow the Bureau of Land Management To Conserve 245 Million Acres of Public Land

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: May 07, 2024

The Biden administration announced a new law in April that would establish new rules for conserving land in the U.S.

More than 245 million acres of public land will be converted to conservation land to be controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.

New Leases for Degraded Land

As reported by the New York Times, the new rules will add two new types of leases for the purpose of restoring degraded land and offsetting environmental damage.

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Currently, around 10% of the country’s land needs to be restored.

Multiple Uses Management Policy

The Bureau of Land Management has already used a conversation effort known as “multiple uses.”

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The policy allows land to be used for cattle ranching, drilling, and recreation to turn a profit while protecting endangered land.

Multiple Uses May Cause Worse Environmental Issues

Critics of the new land policy object to the way the land is being used. They say that allowing multiple uses can have negative effects on the environment.

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Oil drilling and cattle raising can worsen the effects of climate change and drought. Wildfire season has become increasingly concerning throughout the United States, and environmental groups fear that repurposing the land could make it worse.

Republicans Are Also Not Fans of the New Ruling

When the new ruling was announced in April, Republicans had some choice words for the current president about his use of conservation lands.

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They stated that the lease idea is a land grab and will put national security at risk.

Wyoming Senator Particularly Worried

Sen. John Barrasso (R – WY) responded to Pres. Biden with a statement about the way of life in Wyoming.

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He said that the ability of BLM to lease public lands will threaten the natural conservation, mineral production, grazing, and recreation in Cowboy State. He also vowed to attempt to repeal the law using the Congressional Review Act.


Some Environmentalists Are Supporting Joe Biden

Although many environmental and conservation groups think that Pres. Biden isn’t doing enough to protect the natural land in the country; many are on his side.

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Jamie Williams, the president of The Wilderness Society, said that the rule will define how an entire generation treats and manages their shared resources.


Environmental Protection Agency Excited To Conserve New Lands

Another proponent of the new bill is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The group came out in full support of the new law.

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The EPA stated that the country’s national resources are meant to benefit all Americans. The new ruling to protect even more land will help provide clean air and water, fertile soil for crop production, pollination, and flood control.


Restoring Natural Resources Can Help Eliminate Climate Hazards

Using the opportunity to restore natural habitats and land that have not been cared for can benefit the environment significantly. Using some of the land to turn a profit will also help the environment in the long term, thanks to the added revenue that can be used to clean up water, air, and land. 

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According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the restoration program will help enhance the ecosystem’s natural defence against wildfires, floods, heat waves, and droughts.


Helping Conserve Nature Will Conserve Our Future

One of the benefits of adding conservation lands in the U.S. is the added protection against climate change. The more trees there are in a single place, the more dirty air can be recycled, helping cool the climate.

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Reducing the amount of carbon emissions in the air can be drastically changed on a large scale through the restoration project.


Biden Wants To Leave a Legacy of Conservation

During his tenure as president and vice president for Barack Obama from 2008 to 2016, Biden made a name for himself as a policymaker obsessed with the environment. 

President Joe Biden, wearing sunglasses and a casual shirt, speaking into a microphone at an outdoor event with buildings in the background

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In late 2023, Biden made waves when he banned oil development from 10 million acres on Alaska’s North Slope. The controversial decision upset Republican lawmakers and prominent members of natural and oil.


BLM Wants To Start New Energy Proposals

After the new land is acquired, the Bureau of Land Management wants to begin approving geothermal energy exploration.

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Geothermal energy is a renewable source that depends on underground water basins and reservoirs. This type of energy is abundant in western states.