The election results put a bright light on the horizon for our work to protect public lands and our climate. In January 2021, Colorado will have two U.S. senators who are strong public lands champions and recognize the importance of addressing the climate crisis. Former Governor John Hickenlooper has been an ardent supporter of the CORE Act, and he made his commitment to pass it one of his key campaign messages. And Hickenlooper’s support for locally grown initiatives to protect public lands is not new. As governor he supported efforts to protect the Thompson Divide and the North Fork Valley from oil and gas development and we’re excited to work with him to continue the work to protect these special places. While the Senate still looks to be a challenging place to move public lands bills, we’re confident that with both of Colorado’s senators actively working to pass the CORE Act and protect other important public lands, we’ll make conservation gains in Congress.
Senator Bennet and Senator-elect Hickenlooper are also both dedicated to stopping climate change, and one of the most exciting ways we expect that to impact Colorado and WW’s work revolves around the 30×30 initiative to protect 30% of the planet by 2030. Senator Bennet, along with Colorado Representative Neguse, have already introduced the “30×30 Resolution to Save Nature” in Congress, and we’re excited to see what our two senators will be able to accomplish together in this endeavor.
In the House, not much has changed for our work. The Democratic majority there will likely continue to advance public lands bills and the Colorado delegation remains roughly the same. We’re excited to continue to partner with Representative Neguse, who handily won re-election, on bills like the CORE Act, which he has championed. Unfortunately the third Congressional district is still represented by someone who is out of touch with their constituents when it comes to public lands — polling clearly shows that the majority of western Coloradans value protected public lands.
Nationally we have an exciting opportunity as well. The Biden administration will certainly be a welcome change for the better when it comes to protecting public lands and climate. We will likely write volumes about this in the months and years to come, but an initial quick list of what were most excited about includes:
- An end to the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda and an opportunity to wind down fossil fuel development on public lands.
- National climate policies that include significant public land protection opportunities such as the 30×30 initiative.
- A new day for the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency that manages the majority of our western public lands. After four years of relentless efforts to dismantle the BLM, including the calamitous headquarters relocation that led to a mass exodus of agency staff, we’re looking forward to the Biden administration rebuilding the BLM for the future and restoring the agency’s conservation mandate.
These changes won’t happen on their own—we’ll need to keep working hard to capitalize on the momentum of this election! We’re eager to collaborate with our new elected officials and we’ll be holding them accountable to their campaign promises to protect our public lands and our climate.