President Biden’s decision to establish the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in southern Nevada has been met with criticism from Governor Joe Lombardo.
The new national monument covers over 506,000 acres, including Spirit Mountain, which is considered a sacred space by indigenous tribes in the area.
While the White House has stated that the monument designation is meant to preserve the region’s natural beauty and cultural heritage, Governor Lombardo argues that the move will have significant negative impacts on residents of the state.
Lombardo claims that he reached out to the Biden administration about the designation but received no response and that the lack of consultation with his administration is a serious concern given the size of the proposal.
Governor Lombardo points to potential disruptions of rare earth mineral mining projects and long-planned bipartisan economic development efforts as reasons why the monument designation is a mistake.
The region is home to significant mineral reserves and is where energy developers have proposed large renewable energy projects. Nevada has massive deposits of lithium, a key mineral for green energy technologies like electric vehicle batteries.
Crescent Peak Renewables, a subsidiary of a Swedish energy firm, proposed a 500-megawatt wind energy project across more than 30,000 acres of federal lands in the area where the new monument has been declared.
The Trump administration ultimately denied approving permits for the project, citing the 306 active mining claims that would be disturbed by its construction.
Last year, the company proposed a scaled-down version of the project across nearly 5,000 acres.
However, the entire project is unlikely to move forward since it is entirely located in the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument.
Governor Lombardo argues that this “Washington Knows Best” policy will ultimately cost the state jobs and economic opportunities, while also making it more difficult to develop affordable housing and critical infrastructure projects.
The governor also asserts that the federal confiscation of over 500,000 acres of Nevada land will have long-lasting negative consequences for residents of the state.
In addition to establishing the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, President Biden also designated the Castner Range National Monument in western Texas near El Paso.
During remarks at the White House Conservation in Action Summit on Tuesday, Biden praised both monuments as being beautiful and important for preserving biodiversity and cultural heritage.
However, critics argue that these designations are examples of the Biden administration putting special interests ahead of the needs of ordinary Americans.
They argue that the monuments will harm local economies and cost jobs while doing little to actually address the pressing issues facing the country.