In a preview of the arguments likely to be repeated as the Biden administration and Congress work toward conservation goals, Democrats on a U.S. House panel Tuesday outlined what they say is a need for aggressive action on climate.
But Republicans worried increased federal involvement would be counterproductive to conservation goals while hurting rural economies.
Democrats and most Republicans present at the first hearing of the year for a House Natural Resources subcommittee that oversees public lands agreed conservation was a worthy goal, but had differing visions of what increased conservation should look like.
Republicans voiced fears that added conservation efforts would bring more restrictive designations of public and private lands, making the management of forest fires more difficult and endangering livelihoods tied to ranching, mining and forestry.
Democrats, while arguing that more aggressive federal lands management was a necessary part of mitigating climate change, downplayed the scope of federal protections and said increased conservation could bring more—not fewer—jobs to rural communities.
Molly Cross, a scientist and climate change adaptation coordinator at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the changing climate affects the supply of clean air and water, wildlife protections and natural disasters, but could be mitigated by conservation.
“The scientific consensus is clear: The earth’s climate is changing and human activities, including fossil fuel emissions and land conversion, are the reason,” she said. “The good news is there are actions we can take.”
Dems decry ‘misinformation’
Members of the panel’s Democratic majority spent much of the hearing responding to what full committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva called “misinformation” about the scope and purpose of increased conservation designations.
“Despite what some have suggested, protecting lands is not about locking them up,” Grijalva, (D-Ariz.), said. “We also need to acknowledge that merely extraction, whether it’s mining, oil, gas, or clearcutting… is not conservation, no matter how you dress it up.” Read more