I have heard from many constituents who are concerned about the United Nations possibly affecting land management decisions in the U.S. through a document called "Agenda 21." I recently had the opportunity to share my views on the issue in the Siskiyou Daily News. For those who did not see the piece or who live in other areas of Northern California, I have included it below.
What's all the buzz about "Agenda 21"?
(as published in the Siskiyou Daily News, January 24, 2012)
Over the course of the last several months, in town hall meetings and in other venues, I have repeatedly been asked whether the United Nations is playing a role in land management decisions by federal agencies. Many people have specifically referenced “Agenda 21,” referring to a document that was developed at a United Nations conference in 1993. That document set a number of very broad environmental principles that the UN believes members of the United Nations “should” follow. While this document was agreed to by the United Nations, the United States is a party to the agreement only by our membership in the UN. For the agreement to become legally binding it would require submission to the U.S. Senate for ratification by the President. This has not occurred. Again, “Agenda 21” is not legally binding on the United States.
It is apparent, however, that the Obama Administration and some state and local officials throughout the country share some fringe principles contained in that document. The Administration has tried to enact a job-killing “cap and tax” scheme, continues to limit exploration and production of American-made energy, and is pushing to regulate carbon dioxide-the gas we emit with every breath—as a danger to public health. Each of these policies would severely hurt our economy.
I am adamantly opposed to any policy that undermines our economy and job creation, harms private property rights, reduces U.S. sovereignty, or limits our ability to use our land and resources. I have long been an advocate for reforming misguided environmental laws and I have joined my colleagues on multiple occasions with legislation to reform our regulatory environment. I will continue to be a strong advocate for our private property rights, common-sense natural resources management, and the rural way of life we enjoy in Northern California. I will actively oppose federal funding for job-killing proposals that are masked by the feel-good word “sustainability.”
Let’s not be distracted by Agenda 21, because it is not a threat in and of itself, but let’s rather continue to battle the mindset that underlies it and all of the other policies and laws that have done so much harm over the years to rural America -- radical environmentalism. The Heritage Foundation supports this approach, stating in a recent report that opponents of Agenda 21 should “not allow it to divert them from opposing the more ubiquitous, overarching agenda of homegrown environmental extremists.” The true fix to extreme environmentalism is continued education of ordinary Americans, updating the laws and the judicial system that have crippled our resource base, and perhaps most importantly, a new Administration that shares our philosophy.
There are innumerable reasons to be concerned about the United Nations, but I don’t believe the toothless “Agenda 21” is one of them. I am more concerned by the fact that the UN is notoriously ineffective, outrageously inefficient, and a money pit. In recent years, the UN failed to take decisive action to help stop the Darfur genocide until hundreds of thousands—mostly innocent civilians—were killed. The organization was completely feckless after nuclear-armed North Korea tested an explicitly prohibited long-range missile that has the potential to hit the western United States. Most alarming, the UN has been spectacularly unsuccessful at addressing Iran’s nuclear weapons program, managing to impose only weak and insufficient sanctions even as its own nuclear watchdog agency has warned that Iran is preparing to test a nuclear weapon. I strongly believe these and other failures of the UN undermine our national security interests.
I have no doubt that the UN will continue to produce nonbinding “agendas” that range from merely silly to genuinely alarming. Fortunately, we remain a sovereign nation and we can simply ignore these UN agenda items. When it comes to environmental regulation, our real concern is with current federal laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, that are grossly imbalanced and have been repeatedly invoked to hammer our economy. If we truly want to make a difference in our local economy, we need to focus our time and attention on reforming our own laws and regulations. The current dispute over the Klamath dams has everything to do with United States law, and nothing to do with the United Nations.
We are free to ignore nonbinding philosophical statements from the United Nations. We have learned the hard way that we cannot ignore the Endangered Species Act.
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