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ICYMI: Biden's War Against the Lands, Waters and American Workers Just Got Even Bigger

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 25, 2023 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
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By House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

Nearly 1 million acres. That’s an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. It’s also the area of land President Biden just locked away by designating a new national monument in Arizona.

Let’s back up a little. The Antiquities Act is a 1906 law that grants U.S. presidents authority to create national monuments for sites that have enormous national or cultural significance. Unfortunately, the Antiquities Act has been increasingly misused by some presidents to appease radical activists by locking away staggering amounts of land under the guise of environmentalism. 

Monument designations block local communities from the multiple uses of the land – such as accessing the land for recreation, energy development, livestock grazing and timber harvesting – they’ve benefited from for generations and prevents any kind of economic development of the natural resources contained in the land area.

President Biden is no stranger to locking up our resources. Since day one, he has declared war against the lands, waters and American workers that serve to secure American energy independence, are lifelines to rural economies, and provide opportunities for a wide variety of activities. States such as Minnesota, Colorado and now Arizona are victims of this administration’s war on the American economy, mining sector and local workers. 

The most recent announcement, the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument in northern Arizona, takes Democrats’ radical eco-agenda a step too far. Not only does it lock away the land, but it also prevents future mineral development from America’s richest and highest-grade uranium deposit. Unable to mine and refine this uranium, the Biden administration has increased America’s reliance on uranium from foreign adversaries, most notably Russia. 

By leaving us at the mercy of foreign adversaries to meet our energy needs, President Biden is leading the country away from energy independence and toward decades of dependence. President Biden’s actions are especially egregious because they increase the vulnerability of America’s current, and future, nuclear power plants that rely on uranium to produce zero-emissions energy. 

The lunacy of the withdrawal is apparent given the administration’s own stated energy goals. Indeed, Gina McCarthy, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency and President Biden’s first White House national climate adviser, said nuclear energy is "absolutely essential" to meeting the Biden administration’s clean energy targets."

Nuclear power contributes nearly 20% of the electricity generated in America and is the largest zero-emission energy source we have. It accounts for more energy production than wind, solar and hydropower combined. Uranium is an integral metal to making the fuel for nuclear energy reactors at nuclear power plants. It is also essential for the reactors that power the naval ships and submarines that secure America’s waters and our interests around the globe.

Despite the national and energy security significance, the U.S. imported 95% of the uranium used by our nuclear power plants in 2021. Fifty percent of that came from either Russia or Kazakhstan, a former Soviet state that borders Russia and China. 

Even with the war in Ukraine and ongoing sanctions against Russia, the United States continues to send $1 billion a year to the Russian state-owned nuclear agency for enriched uranium. The Biden administration had the opportunity to end this reliance by developing domestic uranium in Arizona yet failed to act, instead pushing us further and further over the line of dependency.  

In addition to the attack on our energy independence and national security, this monument designation by the Biden administration threatens our rural communities by cutting off the multiple uses of the land that both native and non-native communities have enjoyed for centuries. Outdoor recreation, cattle grazing, and hunting are among the uses that will be negatively impacted by this misguided designation. 

The surrounding communities that support outdoor recreationists and sportsmen with lodging, food and gear will take the hit. We should be supporting decisions that lift small business owners, the backbone of our rural communities, and create more opportunities for Americans to enjoy our public lands, not destroying them with reckless policy. 

It's time for the Biden administration to reverse course, invest in American energy independence, and end their policy of locking away our lands and natural resources.

By invoking policies that threaten our energy, economic, and national security for generations to come, they are deepening an unnecessary reliance on our foreign adversaries for our nation’s basic needs. They are also wreaking havoc on rural communities and their economies by limiting the multiple uses of the lands that have been enjoyed for centuries. 

House Republicans are ready to fight against this designation and advocate for responsible stewardship of our resources.