Biden used authority granted to the president under the Antiquities Act of 1906 on Tuesday to create two national monuments — one in Nevada and one in Texas — and he directed resources toward studying a possible marine national monument southwest of Hawaii. The two national monuments together impose strict regulations on roughly 510,000 acres of land.
The national monument declared in Nevada is by far the bigger of the two, itself covering over half a million acres. The Avi Kwa Ame National Monument was designated over a region known as Spirit Mountain in southern Nevada. Lombardo said that the designation, made without his input, locks up land long planned for mineral development and other projects.
“Since I took office, the Biden White House has not consulted with my administration about any of the details of the proposed Avi Kwa Ame national monument which, given the size of the proposal, seems badly out of step,” the Republican governor told Fox News in a statement.
“Upon learning that the President was considering unilateral action, I reached out to the White House to raise several concerns, citing the potential for terminal disruption of rare earth mineral mining projects and long-planned, bipartisan economic development efforts,” he continued. “While I’m still waiting for a response, I’m not surprised.”
The region of Avi Kwa Ame is rich in minerals. The state of Nevada has large reserves of lithium in particular, a key ingredient in green technology such as batteries. The designation potentially killed at least one green energy project, the 400-megawatt Angora Solar Project by Avantus, a California-based renewable energy company. The company had requested the Biden administration carve 2,000 acres for the solar farm, which Biden did not accommodate, according to POLITICO.
“It’s one of our most beautiful landscapes that ties together one of the largest contiguous wildlife corridors in the United States: 500,000 acres. It’s breathtaking,” Biden said. “Rich in biodiversity; sacred lands that are central to the creation story of so many tribes who have been here since time immemorial.”
“It’s a place of reverence. It’s a place of spirituality. And it’s a place of healing. And now it’ll be recognized for the significance it holds and be preserved forever,” he added.
The Biden administration claimed while designating the national monument that it would not “slow the positive momentum of clean energy development in the State of Nevada.”
Lombardo disagreed, saying that the national monument would cost his state jobs and raise the price of land for Nevada residents.
“This kind of ‘Washington Knows Best’ policy might win plaudits from unaccountable special interests, but it’s going to cost our state jobs and economic opportunity — all while making land more expensive and more difficult to develop for affordable housing and critical infrastructure projects,” the governor said. “The federal confiscation of 506,814 acres of Nevada land is a historic mistake that will cost Nevadans for generations to come.”
Biden also designated nearly 7,000 acres near El Paso, Texas, as the Castner Range National Monument.
“The people of El Paso have fought to protect this for 50 years. Their work has finally paid off,” Biden said. “And now we’ll clear the area of old munitions, create access to the outdoors for communities and parks, and we’re going to — green spaces that — they’re harder and harder to find. And importantly, Castner Range will be preserved for future generations.”