Amendments to Roll Back Land Protections Soundly Defeated

Jan 28, 2015
Attacks attached to the Keystone XL Pipeline bill ignored the will of the American people.

Today, several measures aimed to roll back protections on our nation’s public lands were defeated in the Senate as part of the Keystone XL Pipeline bill. These amendments would have, among other effects, dismantled permanent protection for millions of acres of wilderness quality lands (S.A. 166) that await protection and weakened the Antiquities Act (S.A. 132), a law used by 16 presidents to protect places such as the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty. 

“The Wilderness Society is outraged by these deliberate assaults on our nation’s lands and waters but we’re pleased that cooler heads prevailed and these anti-conservation amendments failed,” said Jeremy Garncarz, senior director of designations with The Wilderness Society.

“Wilderness study areas are an invaluable set of lands that have been identified for protection because of their unique character, wildlife habitat, outstanding recreational opportunities and cultural and historic resources. These shared public lands protect watersheds and clean drinking water, offer spectacular views and sources of clean air, and link habitat together so that wildlife can thrive in an ever-developing world.

We cannot put a price tag on amenities like parks, monuments and wilderness, but removing protections from these lands is a direct attack on our nation’s heritage and would rob our children and grandchildren of the opportunity to experience and explore the wild America that remains. 

Amendments 166 and 132 would have snuffed out locally driven efforts by communities across the country to make decisions that affect the lands they enjoy in their back yards.”

Across party lines, voters say they “strongly support” President Obama’s proposals that would “permanently protect some public lands: monuments, wildlife refuge areas and wilderness.”

By a 2-to-1 margin, voters also agree that “protecting public lands and natural places from over-development” is a higher priority for the federal government than “opportunities for oil and gas drilling.”  (Hart Research, December 2014)


Jeremy Garncarz, Senior Director of Designations, (970) 403-6186,

Kate Mackay, Communications Director, (602) 571-2603,


The Wilderness Society is the leading wild public lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, TWS has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.