A week after Joe Biden became president, he signed executive 0rder 14008 that announced his commitment to protect 30 percent of U.S. land and water — 41.5 million acres per year — by 2030.

Then, on May 6, 2021, the Interior Department published “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” a preliminary report about what’s become known as the “30 x 30” plan.

Under the agency’s direction, in collaboration with the Agriculture and Commerce departments and consistent with Biden’s order, the report reaffirmed the mission to conserve within the next seven years at least 30% of the nation’s lands and waters.

The order is tall, and time is short for the urgent undertaking.

As of 2023, the United States is going in the wrong direction if its intention is to preserve precious, irreplaceable natural resources.

The growth and development mantra that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the news media and most in Congress embrace have overwhelmed Americans who want to preserve what remains of the nation’s biodiversity.

The valiant battle against the powerful, wealthy, craven growth mongers is worth the fight.

In the book, Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United States, the authors point out that the United States is, for species like salamanders and fresh water turtles, at the global center of ecological biodiversity.

From Appalachia’s lush forests to Alaska’s frozen tundra, and from the Midwest’s tallgrass prairies to Hawai‘i’s subtropical rainforests, the nation harbors a stunning, unique ecosystem array.

These ecosystems in turn sustain an incomparable variety of plant and animal life.

Among the nation’s other extraordinary biological features are California’s coast redwoods, which are the world’s tallest trees, and Nevada’s Devils Hole pupfish, which survive in a single 10’ x 70’ desert pool, the smallest range of any vertebrate animal.

And yet, relentless growth continues. Between 2010 and 2020, the United States grew by about 20 million residents, the equivalent of Los Angeles x5. Today Los Angels has 3.9 million people, and a density of 8,382 persons per square mile.

Since Biden’s order, there have been few, if any, identifiable successes. A recently released Interior Department preliminary report is best viewed as a guideline or a starting point two years into the venture.

Details are few. Rather, the report repeats themes that have been bandied about for decades: “Pursue a collaborative and inclusive approach to conservation” and “conserve America’s lands and waters for the benefit of all people.”

No one argues with those objectives or the six other so-called central recommendations.” But the progress report lacks the specifics of how to accomplish the lofty goals and ignores the harsh reality that, on its current course, the U.S. population will continue ever upward.

As encouraging as the White House’s awareness and conservation activism is, Biden’s order makes not a single mention of immigration, the nation’s main population driver.

And while discussions about immigration may be uncomfortable or even off the table for expansionists, no serious approach to conservation can exclude the controversial topic.

More than 1 million legal immigrants arrive annually, many beginning new families or expanding their existing families. Many eventually petition their relatives, the family reunification process that adds significantly to U.S. population growth.

By 2030, the U.S. population is expected to reach about 350 million, up from today’s 334 million.

By 2060, the Census Bureau predicts that population will hover around 400 million, more than 15 million more per decade, and a 20% spike from 2023. These figures were calculated before Biden’s southern border surge.

The obvious consequence is more development. More roads, hospitals, schools, stores and places of worship must be built. With that, green spaces and open spaces are destroyed to make room for the inevitable sprawl that building creates.

The establishment wants more immigration because more new residents means more consumers.

Despite elitists demands, at a minimum immigration must be slowed. Reduced immigration levels — fewer people — would help the White House Council on Environmental Quality move toward its conservation goal.

Ignore immigration as a variable in population growth, and sprawl and environmental degradation will continue unabated.

In 2001, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., the founder of Earth Day, called out faux environmentalists. Under that would fit Biden’s Interior, Agriculture and Commerce departments’ officials.

Nelson spoke words as true today as they were two decades ago: “… it’s phony to say ‘I’m for the environment but not for limiting immigration.’”

Joe Guzzardi

Joe Guzzardi

Joe Guzzardi is a nationally syndicated columnist writing about immigration and related social issues. A California native who now lives in Pittsburgh, he’s a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who can be reached at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org. The opinions expressed are his own.