The Biden administration on Tuesday announced the designation of two national monuments, putting more than 500,000 acres off-limits to all energy production. The announcements, along with a direction to initiate the designation of a marine sanctuary across 777,000 square miles around the Pacific Remote Islands, are part of the administration’s effort to protect 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
In what is now southern Nevada, a new national monument will cover about 507,000 acres including Avi Kwa Ame (ah-VEE-kwah-may), a mountain sacred to 12 Native tribes. Located on Fort Bliss, the far smaller Castner Range monument near what is now El Paso, Texas, is the ancestral homeland of the Comanche and Apache people and is sacred to numerous other Indigenous communities — it is now off-limits to people because the U.S. military used it as a firing range during the mid-20th century.
The announcements came just days after the administration’s approval of the ConocoPhillips Willow project — protesters outside the announcement at DOI condemned Biden’s “climate hypocrisy.” They also follow IPCC’s release of its Synthesis Report warning the world’s nations must slash fossil fuel use quickly and dramatically to avoid the worst impacts of climate change — a report of which top administrations appear to have been unaware. Protesters angry over the Willow project approval also prevented White House climate advisor Ali Zaidi from addressing an event Center for Strategic and International Studies, which has accepted donations from ConocoPhillips. (Washington Post $, E&E News, NPR, New York Times $, The Hill, HuffPost, Axios; DOI protesters: AP; CSIS protesters: Reuters)