<p>Federal influence is particularly significant in the Western U.S. Across the 11 states from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast, the federal government owns <a href=”https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42346.pdf” target=”_blank”>more than 45% of all land</a>. In Alaska it owns over 60%.</p><p>Voters have a striking choice this year. President Donald Trump entered office committed to the “<a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/24/us/politics/stephen-bannon-cpac-speech.html” target=”_blank”>deconstruction of the administrative state</a>.” His administration raced to reduce environmental planning and regulations and expand private development in pursuit of “<a href=”https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-unleashing-american-energy-dominance/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>energy dominance</a>.”</p>

The U.S. government controls many types of protected land and subsurface minerals such as oil and gas, mainly in Western states. BLM/Wikipedia

<p>In contrast, Vice President Biden’s campaign proposals for public lands remain fairly broad, but are largely consistent with the Obama administration’s priorities. The most significant difference is Biden’s pledge to <a href=”https://joebiden.com/9-key-elements-of-joe-bidens-plan-for-a-clean-energy-revolution/#” target=”_blank”>end new fossil fuel leasing on public lands</a>.</p><p>How would each candidate fulfill these promises? As I explain in my new book, “<a href=”https://global.oup.com/academic/product/this-land-is-my-land-9780197500699?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp;” target=”_blank”>This Land Is My Land: Rebellion in the West</a>,” public lands are a microcosm of today’s polarized American politics.</p><p>On the right, mainstream conservatives and industrial corporations want <a href=”https://theconversation.com/interior-secretary-zinke-invokes-teddy-roosevelt-as-model-but-his-public-land-policies-dont-84546″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>reduced regulation and increased resource development</a>, while a more militantly anti-federal element of the Republican Party demands an <a href=”https://theconversation.com/history-points-to-more-dangerous-malheur-style-standoffs-68134″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>end to public land ownership</a> altogether. On the left, mainstream Democrats want carefully regulated land management with <a href=”https://www.outsideonline.com/2363781/what-election-meant-public-lands” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener