‘A Historic Mistake:” Nevada’s Republican Governor Blasts Biden for Locking up Mineral-Rich Land

Nevada’s GOP Governor Joe Lombardo recently criticized President Joe Biden for his designation of a new national monument in Nevada and argued it would adversely impact residents for generations. 

Tuesday, the president announced he would establish the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in southern Nevada. According to the White House, the region includes Spirit Mountain, considered a sacred space by Indigenous tribes. 

Governor Lombardo said that although he has contacted President Biden about the 506,814-acre monument designation in the state, he has yet to hear back. 

“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,” said Lombardo, who ascended to the state’s highest job in January, 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,” continued Lombardo. “While I’m still waiting for a response, I’m not surprised.”

The newly-named national monument is located near several national wilderness areas, including the Mojave Desert. It is home to land where energy developers have proposed sizeable renewable energy projects and significant mineral reserves. Nevada has substantial lithium deposits, a crucial mineral for green energy technologies like electric vehicle batteries. 

Crescent Peak Renewables, a Swedish energy firm subsidiary, proposed a 500-megawatt wind energy project across over 30,000 acres of federal lands in the area where President Biden declared the national monument in 2015. 

Conversely, the Trump administration denied approving permits for the same project, citing the 306 active mining claims that its construction would disrupt. 

Entire project is now at risk

Last year, the company proposed a decreased project version across almost 5,000 acres. But, the whole project is now unlikely to advance since it is located entirely in the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument

“This kind of ‘Washington Knows Best’ policy might win plaudits from unaccountable special interests, but it will 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,” Lombardo said. 

“The federal confiscation of 506,814 acres of Nevada land is a historic mistake that will cost Nevadans for generations to come,” the governor continued. 

President Biden also designated the Castner Ridge National Monument in western Texas near El Paso, along with establishing the Avi Kwa Ame National monument. 

Biden praised both monuments during Tuesday’s remarks at the White House Conservation in Action Summit.

“[Avi Kwa Ame National Monument is] one of our most beautiful landscapes that ties together one of the largest contiguous wildlife corridors in the United States: 500,000 acres,” said Biden. “It’s breathtaking. Breathtaking deserts, valleys, mountain ranges. Rich in biodiversity. Sacred lands that are central to the creation story of so many Tribes who have been here since time immemorial.”

“[Castner Range is] also a place of incredible beauty,” added the president. “As winter gives way to spring, Mexican gold poppies are bursting into bloom. You see — I wish I — what I wanted to do was have all this in a video behind me here because when you see it, it’s just breathtaking. Transforming desert plains and hills into a sea of vibrant yellow and oranges, framed with the rugged mountains and the blue sky.”