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President Biden on Tuesday used his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate two new national monuments—a massive one in Nevada, and the 7,000-acre area Castner Range National Monument, formerly a U.S. Army training site in El Paso, Texas.
Of the 506,000-acre Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in southern Nevada, Biden called it a "place of reverence, a place of spirituality, a place of healing," and one that "will now be recognized for the significance it holds and be preserved forever."
The land is considered sacred to about a dozen tribes in the area, and advocates have been pushing for its designation for decades. But Lombardo expressed frustration over the administration's "unilateral action" and economic impact of the move.
"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 governor's statement said—a claim the Biden administration disputes. "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. While I'm still waiting for a response, I'm not surprised. 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 newly-minted national monument, located near multiple national wilderness areas including the Mojave Desert, is home to both significant mineral reserves and land where energy developers have proposed large renewable energy projects. Nevada contains massive deposits of lithium, a key mineral for green energy technologies like electric vehicle batteries.
In 2015, 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 Biden declared the monument. The Trump administration ultimately denied approving permits for the project, citing the 306 active mining claims that would be disturbed by its construction.
Then, 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. (Fox News)
"The federal confiscation of 506,814 acres of Nevada land is a historic mistake that will cost Nevadans for generations to come," Lombardo added.