Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 22, 2018

Contact: Paulo Lopes, (202) 849-8401 x 105,

New Report: Attacks on Public Lands, Oceans Surged During Trump's First Year

Alaska Lawmakers Top Updated 'Public Lands Enemies' Analysis

WASHINGTON— Congress unleashed an unprecedented attack on public lands and waters during President Trump’s first year in office, according to a new Center for Biological Diversity report released today.

The analysis finds that the 115th Congress introduced 124 bills in 2017 to strip protections from public lands and waters, including national monuments, parks, wildlife refuges and forests ― an increase of more than 25 percent compared to the 114th Congress.

“Our public lands and waters have never been under greater threat,” said Paulo Lopes, a public lands policy specialist at the Center. “Cherished places Americans thought were protected forever are now being put on the chopping block to benefit fossil fuel companies and other special interests. No public lands are safe under the Trump administration and this Republican Congress.”

Today’s report also identifies the top six members of Congress trying to attack public lands, weaken environmental safeguards, or turn over control of public lands to states and local governments — led by Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young.

Alaska’s congressional delegation, led by Young and Murkowski, introduced more than 25 bills — nearly  20 percent of all legislative attacks on public lands — including bills to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and privatize more than 175,000 acres of other public lands in Alaska.

All told the top six 2017 public-lands enemies introduced nearly 50 anti-public-lands bills and collected more than $3 million from fossil fuel companies and other extractive industries.

The top 2017 Public Lands Enemies are:

  • Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
  • Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
  • Sen. Jeff Flake (R- Ariz.)
  • Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)
  • Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.)

“These six members of Congress are trying to turn America’s public lands into an ATM for corporations,” Lopes said. “Private companies reap all of the financial benefits while the American public is left with fewer places to enjoy nature and tarnished lands for future generations.”

This new report is a follow-up to the Center’s Public Lands Enemies report, published in March 2017, which covered public-lands attacks during the previous three congressional sessions.

America’s public lands span more than 600 million acres and include some of the most beloved places in America, from Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Grand Canyon and the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the vast Sagebrush Sea of the West. Publicly owned ocean waters cover nearly 4.5 million square miles, including ancient Pacific coral reefs and vast undersea volcanos. These iconic lands and waters are all held in trust by the federal government for the benefit of current and future generations of Americans.

More than 90 percent of Americans from both political parties say it’s important to protect and maintain forests, national parks, national monuments and other public lands and waters for future generations.

Under Seige

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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