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Ag law expert suggests U.S. has 30 percent of land already protected

An ag law specialist says the U.S. has already met President Biden’s threshold to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s land and waters by 2030. 

Dave Aiken with the University of Nebraska says the America the Beautiful Report shows 12 percent of U.S. land is protected but it doesn’t include non-federal government land like parks and tribal lands. “I think when they start taking an actually hard look at it, they will find that we’re at or over 30 percent protected,” Aiken says. “It all depends on how much money they get.  Personally, I think, I don’t think this is a high climate priority for the Biden administration.”

He says habitat conservation does not move the needle on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “More clean energy does.  Having a high-speed super grid to move renewable around the country that moves the needle. Electric vehicles move the needle.  This kind of stuff maybe holds the needle where it’s at.”

He says calling the initiative a “land grab” has no legal basis. “You can’t do a land grab in the United States.  If the government wants your property, they have to pay for it,” Aiken says. “Now, I understand that from an emotional standpoint, if it’s my land that the government wants even if they write me a big check, I’m still mad about it.”

Some in the agriculture industry, including Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, have said the conservation effort is a land grab. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has responded to the claims calling them nonsense.

The America the Beautiful Report says the government will meet the goal through voluntary conservation.

Dave Aiken, water and ag law specialist with UNL:

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