When Trump’s administration announced the largest rollback of protection of public lands in history, environmentalists, paleontologists, and Native American groups were all alarmed. He ultimately removed more than 2 million acres of public lands from monuments, allowing them to be exploited by fossil fuel and mining industries.
The impact of Trump’s measures could be catastrophic; not only encouraging more climate emissions through the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, but also disrupting landmarks with cultural significance to tribal nations.
That’s why our action was imperative. Immediately, Friends of the Earth took initiative, filing a lawsuit to demand that the Department of Interior comply with the Freedom of Information Act and provide relevant documents for the department’s review of national monuments. We also encouraged our community to sign petitions demanding the protection of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — and got over 162,780 signatures!
Thankfully, our demands to restore protections over those lands have been answered. President Biden announced in October that protections of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah and of Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments off the New England coast would be restored.
This is a big win for the protection of our planet, as well as Indigenous communities in nearby areas. As put by Friends of the Earth, “public lands are meant to be protected for the American people, not handed out to political donors.”
As we continue our fight in preventing oil and gas exploitation of our public lands, we thank our members for helping us urge Biden’s Administration to right this wrong!