After a contentious four years that saw the outdoor industry pitted against President Donald Trump, it appears as if there is now a pro-environment White House.
Today, President Joe Biden signed climate change executive orders, making it a national security priority. Included in the actions was the commitment to a goal of conserving at least 30% of domestic lands and oceans by 2030. Additionally, the orders paused the entrance into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters.
“To summarize this executive order, it’s about jobs — good paying union jobs. It’s about workers, building our economy back better than before. It’s about the whole government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security and foreign policy,” Biden said. “It’s advancing conservation, revitalizing communities in cities and on the farmlands, and securing environmental justice. Our plans are ambitious, but we are America, we’re bold, we’re unwavering in the pursuit of jobs in innovation, science and discovery. We can do this, we must do this, and we will do this.”
Just a week after he was inaugurated, outdoor industry insiders are already pleased with Biden’s pro-environment stance.
“It feels good and reassuring to have the president listening to the scientists and national security advisors. They’re telling him that climate change is real, that it is a clear and present danger, and he’s acting accordingly,” Erik Burbank, VP of The Keen Effect, told FN.
He continued, “The environment now has an ally in the White House. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. The science is clear. If the president and his administration can lead change on the environmental front, it will be good for all Americans, and the outdoor industry.”
Market watchers such as Matt Powell, senior sports industry adviser at The NPD Group Inc., believe the industry will reap the rewards of an environmentally-focused administration.
“I think he’s going to go out of his way to encourage people to use the outdoor lands that they’re protecting. If he makes sure that lands stay protected, it very much aligns with the values of the outdoor brands, retailers and consumers,” Powell said. “Making public lands even more accessible, protecting new lands and encouraging more of that to happen, those are really the keys that make it easier for folks to get outside. People will certainly will support this, and it should be good for business, good for participation — it’s a win for the industry.”
Although these are the first steps taken, execs including Lowa GM Peter Sachs want to see more.
“First, I would like to see President Biden lower the temperature on all of the nasty commentary, which I think he has already started to do. Then, I think we can have rational discussions backed by science about public lands, conservation and which activities people can participate in at parks, mountains, seashores and so on,” Sachs told FN. “Of course, we would like more access and opportunities for people to visit some of the U.S.’s magical places and participate in human-powered and nature-oriented sports like hiking, climbing, birding, cycling, skiing and hunting.”
Sachs continued, “If we can do that and places become protected and people can be participants then it’s a win for the environment, the economy and people.”
As for Burbank, he wants to see bold thinking and actions “that set the tone for a generation.”
“Teddy Roosevelt’s set aside 230 million acres for public lands in the form of national parks, forests and monuments. Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corp. with a goal conserving the country’s natural resources while providing jobs for young. We need initiatives on this scale to make outside accessible for all, to drive a greener economy and to ultimately preserve the planet,” Burbank said.
Patagonia said this week Biden’s plan to “build back better” should focus on a fossil-free future. The company, a long-time advocate of the environment, also called on the new administration to support decommissioning the Enbridge 5 oil pipeline, which it called “a clear threat” to the Great Lakes.
Biden has already made outdoor industry insiders hopeful, something Trump was unable to do during his tenure.
Arguably the most contested decision by the outdoor industry of Trump’s term was the executive order he signed in 2017 to review all national monuments created since 1996. The executive order had then Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke looking into national monuments spanning at least 100,000 acres.
But not every decision from Trump regarding the outdoors was denounced.
On Aug. 4, 2020, Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act, which will allow spending of $900 million a year on the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Also, it will allow for the spending of $1.9 billion annually on maintenance projects administered by the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education.
Shortly after, the Land & Water Conservation Fund Coalition declared the signing “a resounding victory for public lands.”
“Today marks a new era for conservation that will benefit every single American,” LWCF Coalition co-chair Lesley Kane wrote in a statement. “The extraordinary impact of this program is felt all across the country, from the multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy and the millions of jobs it supports to the trails, rivers, and public land access it provides for sportsmen and women and outdoor enthusiasts, and from urban parks to our majestic national parks and forests.”