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Agenda 21: Regional planning and sustainable development

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From page A1 | May 23, 2012 |

Analysis

Editor’s note — Agenda 21 is a topic of conversation at Tea Party meetings and coffee shops. This is Part III of a four-part analysis series examining the issues associated with Agenda 21. Part I ran May 18 and Part II ran Monday. 

Current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class — involving high meat consumption and large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and workplace air-conditioning, and suburban housing are not sustainable. A shift is necessary which will require a vast strengthening of the multilateral system, including the United Nations.” (Maurice Strong, opening speech at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit)

The phrase sustainable development is one of the catch phrases of the Agenda 21 crowd. It is defined as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

While it has a warm fuzzy sound to it, the devil is in the details and how it plays out in the way people live in the near future.

One can get a preview of what they have planned by looking at how it’s being put into effect through new laws, taxes, regulations, executive orders, and bureaucratic fiat.

California, for example, was the first jurisdiction to adopt a full-scale cap-and-trade system for its carbon emissions. The program was a central element of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) which was signed into law in 2006.

In 2009, a follow-up bill — the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375) — was put into effect which required regional growth scenarios for land use and transportation improvements that took into account state-mandated goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Its intent was to control urban sprawl by confining new development to corridors located adjacent to transit centers.

The fact that AGW (anthropogenic global warming) has been revealed to be largely based on junk science hasn’t resulted in the repeal of this legislation. If anything, revenue shortfalls at the state level have provided an incentive to use the bogeyman of global warming to impose even stricter regulations and assess additional taxes.

For example, Gov. Jerry Brown recently proposed filling the $9 billion hole in the state budget by auctioning off credits that would allow California companies to emit additional greenhouse gases. He is also hinting at using the carbon tax to pay for the proposed high-speed railroad.

Stack’em and pack’em

In the meantime, work proceeds on transforming how ordinary people live. Recently regional planning bodies in California adopted plans that would require most new housing to be built at much higher density levels.

The Association of Bay Area Governments, for example, is proposing that only 3 percent of new housing built by 2035 be allowed on or beyond the “urban fringe” —  where current housing ends and countryside begins. Over two-thirds of the housing built for new residents living in San Francisco and San Jose would be multifamily and concentrated along major thoroughfares.

ABAG’s counterpart in the south, the Southern California Association of Governments, wants even denser housing with 30 or more unit per acre in Los Angeles County and five other Southern California counties.

According to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, if these planners have their way, by the year 2035, 68 percent of all new housing built in Southern California would be condos and apartment complexes.

Unfortunately, this type of housing may be all that the average person living in California will be able to afford in the future. According to U.S. demographer Joel Kotkin, as hard as it is for a middle class family to afford a home in California now, “things will only get worse in the coming years as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and his green cadre implement their ‘smart growth’ plans to cram the proletariat into high density housing.”

Kotkin predicts that “… California is turning into a two-and-a-half-class society. On top are ‘entrenched incumbents’ who inherited their wealth or came to California early and made their money. Then there’s the shrunken middle class of public employees, and, miles below, a permanent welfare class. As it stands today, about 40 percent of Californians don’t pay any income tax and a quarter are on Medicaid … In short, ‘the state is run for the very rich, the very poor, and the public employees.’”

Pushing people off the land

Orlean Koehle, a resident of Sonoma County and author of the book “By Stealth and Deception,” is one of those tracking all these developments which she traces back to Agenda 21. She complains that the government is making it more and more difficult for people to own or use their own property in California.

She cites her own experience in Sonoma when the county rezoned rural properties to require a 100-foot setback from all creeks.”This took a lot of land out of productive use,” she stated.”They also tried to monitor, meter, and tax our well water but that effort failed.”

Another example noted by Koehle was when farmers in Central California had their irrigation water cut off for three years to protect the Delta smelt. That action came in response to a 2006 lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups. Farmers ended up having to plow under their orchards as a result and unemployment in the area skyrocketed.

Koehle, who helped organize a conference on Agenda 21 in April of this year, said, “Agenda 21 is being implemented at the local level though changes to our general plans. Their ultimate goal is to put everyone under regional governments and undercut local government. Even states that don’t have laws like California are implementing these policies. That should tell people something.”

Even more fundamental changes in land ownership are being considered. Recently a U.N. “investigator” demanded that the U.S. government return some of the land “stolen from Indian tribes.” This was in addition to a $1 billion settlement some tribes recently received because of commercial projects on their land. While no one from Congress would meet with this U.N. investigator, he said he received “exemplary cooperation” from the Obama administration.

Re-wilding America

Another one of Agenda 21′s goals is re-wilding American by removing all signs of human habitation from large portions of the country.

Called the Wildlands Project, its goal is to set aside approximately 50 percent of the North American continent as “wild land” to preserve the biological diversity of the continent and protect the migratory routes of animals.

One plan to accomplish this includes blocking huge portions of land from human use by linking up existing public lands, such as national forests and parks, with private land on which human use would be limited or disallowed. Human activity on the remaining land would be heavily controlled.

At present the federal government owns approximately 650 million acres or 30 percent of the land in the United States. In California, the federal government owns about 45 percent of the land.

In pursuit of this objective, the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2010 was introduced in Congress. The bill proposed coordinating efforts between the federal government, the states, and Indian tribes to identify fish and wildlife habitat and corridors. The information was to be used in planning and development decisions with grants available to preserve and protect these corridors.

While the bill never made it out of committee, efforts at re-wilding the country continue.

One of the biggest examples of this is in the Klamath River basin where there is a proposal to remove four dams in response to a drastic decline in the salmon population. If approved, it would be the biggest dam removal and restoration pact in U.S. history. However, the project is currently stalled in Congress and questions were raised after a whistleblower was fired for questioning the integrity of the dam removal study process.

Debbie Bacigalupi, a woman whose family owns land in the area, alleges that the goal of the dam removal is not to bring back the salmon but to enable the government, special interest groups, and certain tribes to take over the entire basin. She claims that Fish and Game was fining people if dead salmon were found on their land and Indians in the area were planting dead fish on people’s property to push the project forward.

“This is all a land grab,” she said. “They are trying to regulate people so they can’t afford to live on the land. And if that doesn’t work, they will try something more drastic.”

Skirmishes of this sort are taking place all over the country as different nonprofit groups, working alone or in tandem with government agencies, propose different projects that tie into the Agenda 21 program.

Locally, there is ongoing litigation between miners and different environmental groups regarding allowable mining activities. More recently, the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation, asked the court for a blanket closure of 42 roads in the Eldorado National Forest because the roads pass through small meadow areas. The court ordered the trails closed until a study is completed which the Forest Service estimates could take up to a year.

Incremental implementation

The push to implement Maurice Strong’s opening speech at the U.N. is already in process. The fact that he made the statement at the beginning of the conference indicates that the Agenda 21 plan did not result from the U.N. conference but rather was written long before the attendees arrived.

If Agenda 21 has largely been under the radar for a while, it’s because much of what has been accomplished has been done incrementally. In addition, rarely is there a discussion of how disparate laws, regulations, lawsuit rulings, and planning efforts come together to form a pattern. To raise the topic usually gets one labeled a “conspiracy theorist.”

However, Americans have every right to question what the central planners have in mind for us — as evidenced by all the laws and regulations being put into place — and whether what is being planned is really in our best interest or theirs.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or dhodson@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.

Part I of the series can be found here, Part II can be found here

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Dawn Hodson

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