“Would make Alex Jones blush”: GOPer says land conservation is a plot to “control” and “kill” people

Trump-allied Rep. Harriet Hageman says plan to preserve land and water will kill Americans through "starvation"

Published January 26, 2023 12:46PM (EST)

Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., attends a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, January 11, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., attends a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, January 11, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., spewed conspiracy theories about an environmental plan to conserve 30% of US land and waters by 2030 ahead of her election last year.

Speaking at R-CALF, a convention for independent cattle producers, Hageman in August 2021 and 2022 baselessly claimed that conservation plans like the global initiative 30x30 are a government plot led by President Joe Biden to control Americans through starvation. 

The congresswoman likened the environmental plans to African dictators starving their people to stay in power.

"Anytime their dictator needed to control the masses and needed to make sure that there would be no uprising, he just starves his people," Hageman said in the previously unreported video. "You can look at Somalia, you can look at the Congo, you can look at country after country after country after country, and what they've done is they control their people with food. That's what 30 x 30 is about. That's what the Green New Deal is about."

The-then candidate's statements are similar to a number of anti-government conspiracy theories shared by anti-public land extremists. Many of these conspiracy theorists have also equated 30x30 with the Holocaust and Stalin's genocide of Ukrainians in the 1930s.

"History repeats, and I think it's being done again," said one 30x30 conspiracy theorist on Facebook. "They did the very same thing in Ukraine, and they intend to do it to us."

In another video, Hageman claimed that 30x30 is the first step towards government-led "starvation" in order to "control" citizens.

"Whenever those leaders want to control the masses, they starve them. They kill them. And that's how they keep control. And that's where the 30 x 30 program is headed," she claimed.

"We need to stop looking at this as preserving the environment," she added. "We need to stop talking about protecting water and natural resources. That isn't what it's about, it's about control. It's about control of you."

This is not the first, or second, time that Hageman has boosted conspiracy theories: she has a long history of espousing misinformation and fighting against conservation and public lands. Hageman proudly bears the nickname "Wicked Witch of the West," which she earned after opposing the Clinton administration's roadless forest rule

"Harriet Hageman's unhinged conspiracy theories show that her motivations for 'oversight' are completely unrooted in reality," Jordan Schreiber, director of the Energy and Environment program at the left-leaning watchdog group Accountable.US, said in a statement to Salon. "The next time she alleges wrongdoing remember that she subscribes to a set of falsehoods that would make Alex Jones blush. She cannot be taken seriously as a legislator or an investigator."

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

During her unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2018, Hageman suggested transferring one million acres of federal land to the state of Wyoming, which would have sold off significant hunting, fishing, and hiking areas, according to a report from The New York Times

Two months before the midterm election in 2022, Hageman also claimed that the federal government controls too much land in the United States. 

"Joe Biden has absolutely no authority whatsoever to try to take more private land out of production and use in this country," she said during a September R-CALF conference. "The federal government already has 612 million acres, and frankly, that's too many."

She further accused the World Wildlife Federation of trying to "destroy the livestock industry," calling them "evil people."

"They will put you out of business if you do not comply with their mandates that are going to be coming down the road," she said of the environmental organization. "They want to either destroy the livestock industry or make sure that it is only the elite that are able to eat beef in the future." 

In addition to conspiracy theories, Hageman has also previously shared that she believes regulatory agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Land Management are "destroying our republic."

By Samaa Khullar

Samaa Khullar is a former news fellow at Salon with a background in Middle Eastern history and politics. She is a graduate of New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism institute and is pursuing investigative reporting.

MORE FROM Samaa Khullar

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Harriet Hageman Joe Biden Politics Reporting