Lombardo said the White House did not respond to any of his concerns before the announcement of the 506,000-acre Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in southern Nevada. Lombardo said his office reached out.
“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,” Lombardo 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. While I’m still waiting for a response, I’m not surprised,” he added.
Biden announced the creation of the Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Range national monuments in El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday. The projects will severely limit development in the areas, including limits to drilling, mining, and possibly the construction of renewable energy facilities. Nevada contains many lithium deposits, a key mineral for green energy technologies.
“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,” 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 Avi Kwa Ame designation honors tribal nations that consider the area sacred, the White House said. Avi Kwa Ame is home to one of the world’s largest Joshua tree forests and is part of Biden’s goal of conserving at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
In a separate action on Tuesday, Biden directed Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to consider initiating a new national marine sanctuary designation to protect all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands.