Boulder, CO — A review of the statements and records of the 12 most supported Republican presidential contenders found that seven of the candidates support efforts to privatize America’s national forests, public lands, and energy resources or transfer them to state control.
The review, released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, outlines how GOP candidates are voicing support for the land grab movement as a means of gaining the support of a conservative network of fossil fuel interests—led by Charles and David Koch—and anti-government activists.
“In Colorado and the West, public opinion is overwhelmingly opposed to right-wing efforts to sell or transfer the national forests and public lands that help power the region’s economy,” said Nicole Gentile, Director of Campaigns for the Public Lands team at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “Presidential candidates seem to be getting behind the unpopular land grab movement as a means of currying favor with an anti-government fringe and to raise money from the Koch brothers.”
Public opinion research released last week found that likely voters in Colorado and Nevada are opposed to transferring U.S. public lands to state ownership by a margin of approximately two to one. The poll, conducted by a bipartisan polling team and commissioned by the Outdoor Industry Association, also found that a majority of likely Republican voters in Colorado are opposed to the idea.
The report was released at a press conference held today in Boulder, Colorado, with former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and former Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) and local elected officials. Salazar called on presidential candidates to be clear with voters about their views on public lands, conservation, and climate change.
“In Colorado, we can’t talk about the economy without talking about the most valuable part of our infrastructure, and that’s the God-given inheritance that we have in our planet that provides so much to us,” Salazar said. “Outdoor recreation alone is a $13 billion per year industry in our state. To win in Colorado, you have to address land, water, and wildlife.”
The presidential candidates who have expressed support for privatizing or transferring control of U.S. national forests, public lands, and energy resources are: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY); Carly Fiorina; former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA); Ben Carson, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R).
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) have not taken formal positions on the issue but have records of supporting privatization in state-owned public lands. Donald Trump, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) have either opposed these efforts or have stayed above the fray.
Read The Dog-Whistle Politics of Seizing and Selling American Lands and Energy Resources in the West, by Nicole Gentile and Matt Lee-Ashley
Related resource: CAP Action’s “Bundy’s Buddies” series
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Benton Strong at email@example.com or 202.403.9940.