Washington, D.C. — Warning that many ecosystems and wildlife species are nearing the point of no return, today, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) said that he would introduce a Senate resolution with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) to set a goal of protecting 30 percent of the nation’s lands and oceans by 2030.
Udall made the announcement at a Center for American Progress event with Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) where he condemned the Trump administration’s ongoing attack on conservation and pledged to undo the damage to public lands from increased drilling, logging, and development.
“Protecting and restoring 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030, with more protected in the decades following, is a necessary step to stem the collapse of our natural systems,” Udall said. “Nature—like climate change—is reaching a tipping point. Many ecosystems and wildlife species are nearing the point of no return.”
His comments came as CAP released a new report showing that the average distance from natural places to developed areas in the contiguous United States fell by 40 percent over the past two decades. The report finds that this fragmentation has become so extensive that if a person were to parachute to a random spot in the lower 48 states, they could expect to be no more than a 10-minute walk from human development.
CAP’s report, as well as Udall’s Senate resolution, follow the recommendation from scientists to protect at least 30 percent of all lands and oceans over the next decade. According to CAP’s analysis, this “30×30” goal is ambitious but achievable.
Haaland noted that deforestation, intensive farming practices, and fossil fuel production are increasing the impact of climate change and taking habitat away from wildlife.
“We need bold policy changes to address these pressing challenges,” Haaland said.
CAP founder John Podesta said the nature crisis and the climate crisis are “two sides of the same coin.” He pointed to the Trump administration’s push to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which will produce massive amounts of carbon pollution, as well as plans to allow more logging in the Tongass National Forest, which serves as a massive carbon sponge.
“We’re spending a lot of time, of course, these days talking about our president’s assault on constitutional norms,” Podesta said. “But I believe that 30 years from now, the crimes that he will be most widely remembered for will be the failure to protect our planet in a moment of urgent need.”
Watch a video of Udall’s remarks and the panel discussion: “Confronting the Nature Crisis”
Read the CAP report: “The Green Squeeze: America’s Nature Crisis” by Matt Lee-Ashley, Jenny Rowland-Shea, and Ryan Richards.
For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at gro.ssergorpnacirema@lenanahs or 202-478-6327.