Monday, November 28, 2016

Protection of Public Lands Cast in Doubt

The Bighorn Mountains are federally owned as part of Bighorn National Forest in northern Wyoming. (Credit: Bobby Magill/Climate Central) Click to Enlarge.
Donald Trump’s election portends a major shift in how one of America’s greatest bulwarks against the impacts of climate change will be protected and used for fossil fuel development.

Scientists and conservationists are just beginning to grasp what may lay ahead for more than 600 million acres of national forests, monuments, parks, conservation areas and other federal public lands.  But, they say Trump’s statements promoting fossil fuels development on public lands make it clear that the days of managing these lands with renewable energy, conservation and climate change in mind may soon be over.

Federal lands make up roughly 27 percent of the land area of the U.S. — equivalent to the landmass of California, Texas and Alaska combined.  The forests they preserve store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and federal lands act as a living laboratory for scientists to study the impacts of climate change on ecosystems.  Public lands protect biological diversity and vast ecosystems that act as a major defense against the effects of climate change.

Public lands also account for about 24 percent of all fossil fuels produced in the U.S.  They’re the source of 21 percent of the oil, 14 percent of the natural gas and 40 percent of the coal produced in the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Read more at Protection of Public Lands Cast in Doubt

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