Public Lands Need Balanced Policies

For skiers, climbers, hikers, paddlers, and mountain bikers, public lands are home to the best human-powered recreation opportunities in the country. But public lands are important for a wide range of uses outside of recreation. Outdoor enthusiasts also need to turn the electricity on at home and put gas in the cars they drive to trailheads. Public lands are home to multiple uses, from climbing crags to windmill farms to grazing for livestock. With smart planning, these multiple uses can coexist peacefully on public lands. Earlier today, Secretary Jewell spoke about energy development on the Department of the Interior’s 500 million acres of public lands. She emphasized the need for balanced policies that account for energy, water, and gas development as well as conservation values and the protection of recreation opportunities. In the past ten years, energy development on public lands has changed significantly. Today, public lands produce almost double the natural gas that they did in 2008. They also produce a lot more renewable energy, including ten times as much solar energy, and three times as much solar energy. This “energy revolution” brings with it a need for modernized policies that govern how public lands are developed, managed, and conserved in the future.

We need common sense reforms that encourage innovation and ensure that taxpayers are getting the most benefit from the resources on public lands that they collectively own. It makes sense to manage our public lands with responsible policies that balance multiple needs. Americans use public lands for their superb recreation opportunities and they also rely on them for the energy that powers their homes, cars, and workplaces. We applaud Secretary Jewell for prioritizing balanced policies on all our public lands to ensure that sustainable energy development is balanced with the protection of critical landscapes and outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities.