What’s at Stake in 2020: Our Public Lands

by Tim Donaghy

October 26, 2020

Since day one of his administration, Donald Trump has pursued what he calls his “Energy Dominance” agenda. It’s a fancy, deceptive way of saying that his friends at all the big energy companies need even MORE taxpayer subsidies, no matter how much destruction is left in their wake. Target number one? Our shared public lands.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

© Rose Sjölander / 70°

So far, their plan has worked. In the last four years, the Trump administration has removed—or is attempting to remove—protections from public lands that represent our country’s unique, irreplaceable ecological and cultural heritage. Public lands create access for communities to experience the natural world. They draw down carbon. They are crucial to the fight against climate change. And they include traditional homelands of Indigenous Peoples who have stewarded this land for generations.

Handing public lands over to extractive industries is an unmitigated disaster. A second term of this administration would make things even worse.

That’s why Greenpeace has launched a massive volunteer program to contact millions of voters around the country and encourage them to vote with protecting these precious places in mind. We want to make sure that you have the tools and resources you need to vote for the environment, too. 

Make your plan to vote — whether it’s by mail, voting early in person, or voting on Election Day — using our ballot tool. Once you’ve made a plan to vote, share it with at least FIVE people you know and get them to fill it out too.

make a plan to vote

I want to paint the clearest possible picture of why we can’t afford four more years under this administration. Here are just a few examples of what’s already happening under Trump. We can expect more of the same (or worse) if his policies live on:

  1. In 2017, Trump reduced the size of the Bears Ears National Monument — 1.3 million acres of historic land in Utah — by 85% for more oil and gas drilling. He did so despite fierce opposition by Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, & Uintah Ouray Ute communities who have been leading the fight to protect Bears Ears and its ecological and cultural heritage for decades.
  2. That same year, he reduced the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument — nearly 1.9 million acres of protected land in Utah — by 47% for coal mining.
  3. Since 2019, he’s been trying to open up American coastlines to expanded offshore drilling. While coalition groups have been able to block his plans so far, there’s no guarantee we’ll win the same battle twice.
  4. In 2020, Trump finalized plans to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing. That’s an existential threat to the Gwich’in community which has relied on the Refuge and the Porcupine Caribou Herd for thousands of years.
  5. Just a few months ago, Trump opened up the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument — nearly 5,000 square miles in the Atlantic — to industrial fishing. 

Four more years of the current status quo won’t just ensure that the above rollbacks remain in place—it will ensure that even worse policies are enacted. We can’t let that happen.

make a plan to vote

The science is clear: we need our policymakers, from the White House to the halls of Congress, to begin a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry IMMEDIATELY. And we’re doing the critical work, alongside thousands of volunteers, to make that happen. I hope you’ll join us.

As the deadline for voting approaches, we’re pulling out all the stops to make sure that you, your friends, family, neighbors, and every environmental voter has their voice heard before the polls close. Our “What’s at Stake” series highlights a key issue that’s on the ballot. If you haven’t voted yet, now is the time. If people in your circle are on the fence, please share this post or have a conversation with them today.

Tim Donaghy

By Tim Donaghy

Tim Donaghy is a Senior Research Specialist with Greenpeace USA. He writes frequently about climate change, offshore oil drilling, energy production, and the Arctic.

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