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Senate Betrayal Creates “Son of CARA” Monster (re: Conservation and Reinvestment Act ) ^ | January 29, 2002 | Tom DeWeese

Posted on 01/29/2002 4:52:01 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen

If you can't steal the land through the front door, then make sure you have the back door open and ready. This is now standard operating procedure in the United States Congress and so it was in the wee hours of December 20th as Congress rushed to adjourn for the Christmas holiday. The result was "Son of CARA," yet another attack on the ownership of property in America.

For more than two years, property rights advocates have been fighting a desperate battle to stop the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA). Enactment of CARA would have assured the largest federal land grab in history. It is apparently not enough that the federal government owns over 40% of the nation's landmass.

CARA is a $47 billion dollar, 15-year trust fund that would give the federal government nearly unlimited resources to intimidate and force property owners to sell their land to the government. Ranches, farms, mines, pastures and private estates would instantly become vulnerable to the whims of envirocrats whose agenda seeks to expand the property holdings of the government.

Cities would feel CARA's impact as well under a provision some have called the "billionaire boys club." That part of CARA would funnel tax dollars into the pockets of rich sports team owners like Ted Turner to build new stadiums. None of these massive expenditures have anything to do with "conservation." CARA is just bad legislation.

So the battle has raged and property owners have been able to stop CARA's passage for almost two years. Though the bill was sponsored by two Republicans, including former Resources Committee Chairman Don Young along with Louisiana Representative Billy Tauzin, only Democrats have fully supported the bill. House Speaker Dennis Hastert didn't like CARA because it divided Republicans. Half of the 24 Republican members of the House Resources Committee opposed CARA.

This year, as Congress moved toward its December recess, CARA was going nowhere. No action had been taken in the Senate to pass it. Property rights advocates were continuing to wage a heroic battle and were holding their own in opposing the bill. It began to look like CARA would be stopped for the second year in a row.

Then, only a few days before the recess, a deal was struck. Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, began working with Senator Bob Smith to bring a compromise bill to the floor. That bill, S. 990, The American Wildlife Enhancement Act was originally introduced on June 6, 2001, but had been ignored and had no co-sponsors or Senate action pending.

The bill was a smaller version of CARA, minus the massive trust fund. Instead, S. 990 was to be funded directly from tax dollars. In addition, it provided grants directly to the states instead of calling for direct federal action. The use of such grants has been a favorite ploy by Republicans. They advocate that direct grants to the states are a way to cut federal programs and honor the Tenth Amendment. In truth, it is really just a slick bookkeeping trick.

So, Senators Reid and Smith had a bill that was less threatening and more to the liking of Republicans than the controversial CARA. To further assure passage, just days before the recess, Senator Reid quietly informed members of the Senate that he was asking for "Unanimous Consent" for the passage of S. 990. "Unanimous Consent" is a special tool available to Senators so they can avoid hearings, amendments and discussion on the bill. Once granted, the bill just sails through without even a vote. It is an undemocratic process that runs contrary to the essential debate of the merits of any piece of legislation.

Senators don't like to oppose "Unanimous Consent" requests for fear of angering a fellow Senator, who in turn, may repay the affront someday in the future. Senators are very polite to each other. The U.S. Senate is a great club in which to hold membership, but if just one Senator opposes the request, legislation can be held up for the normal legislative process.

Reid and Smith then recruited two more Senators to join them in sponsoring the bill, including conservative Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo and former Republican turncoat Jim Jeffords. Quietly, in the dark of night, after most Senators had left the Senate floor and headed for home, these four Senators introduced S.990. As planned, the Senate President asked for Unanimous Consent. No Senator opposed the request. And without a vote or a discussion, S. 990 passed the United States Senate.

As property rights activists became aware of what had happened and as the provisions of the bill were studied, S. 990 was quickly labeled "Son of CARA." The Frankenstein monster was literally created in the dark of night. Senator Smith took offense to the label, denying that S. 990 even resembled CARA. The facts are in the bill.

Senator Smith argues that the United States Constitution protects private property owners from unreasonable seizure of private property. Such an argument is simply naive considering that property rights have been usurped at an alarming rate for the passed several decades. Moreover, the U.S. court system is now loaded with liberal judges who will allow the government to take land from owners for as little as five percent of its value. Senator Smith insists that S. 990 "enhances" property rights.

Senator Smith uses an incredible twist of language when he claims, "under this bill the Federal government will NOT acquire a single acre of land." Well, that's technically true. Instead, he sets up a federal grant to empower States to acquire the land. In truth, under S. 990, while the federal government gives up none of its current power to acquire land and harass property owners, States are now empowered to do the same thing. Property owners don't stand a chance as all of the funds in S. 990 can be used to seize land if a State government land acquisition agent chooses to do so.

Under S. 990, the government can grab private land for nearly any reason. In the bill, the term "acquisition" appears several times, including, to quote directly from Section 102, "acquisition of an area of land or water that is suitable or capable of being made suitable for feeding, resting, or breeding wildlife." Section 102 goes on to say, "conservation includes any activity associated with scientific resources management, such as acquisition, improvement, and management of habitat."

Senator Smith claims that money in S. 990 cannot be used to benefit anti-hunting, animal rights organizations. That claim is false because the Senator put in a loophole which allows fully $250 million out of the bill's $600 million to be available as grant money for animal rights groups to use to oppose hunting.

One of the very worst provisions of S. 990 is that it exempts government land acquisition agents from the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). FACA is a congressional watchdog committee which is supposed to investigate and assure that land acquisition is carried out properly under the law, but section 106 clearly states, "Coordination with State Fish and Game Department personnel or with personnel of any other state agency under this Act shall not be subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act."

Despite the revelation of numerous scandals and misappropriations of funds concerning land acquisition during the past few years, S. 990 chooses to ignore oversight provisions. The inherent danger is that this becomes even more obvious and outrageous in light of the current case of federal and state agents working together to plant lynx hairs in a national forest in order to "find" an endangered species and eliminate access from the land. S. 990 proposes to exempt these very agents from public scrutiny.

Senator Smith claims that S. 990 will actually protect property owners because it allows up to $150 million per year for landowners to apply for financial assistance if they are denied use of the land because of the discovery of an endangered species. Senator Smith's solution to this kind of "taking" is to allow environmentalists to deny all use of someone's property and put the landowner in dire financial straits. Then, he proposes to give the landowner some federal dollars in exchange for the loss of the land. In other words, Senator Smith has made up a new kind of welfare program to pay for government excesses and abuses.

Finally, S. 990 proposes a $9 million direct pork-barrel payoff to the Trust for Public Lands, one of the most notorious anti-private property environmental groups so they can turn a profit on a land grab. Here's how the land acquisition scam between private green groups and government agents works. The government determines it wants to acquire a parcel of land. When this becomes known, property values plummet because there is no longer a market for the land. Along comes a benevolent environmental group to help take the land off the hands of the poor, besieged property owner for a greatly reduced price, of course. The friendly environmentalists then sell it to the government for close to the original market value, plus costs and legal fees. S. 990 has a cool $9 million for such deals.

In total, S. 990 allows up to $600 million per year for five years which comes to $3 billion allocated for two purposes: land acquisition with no protection against condemnation; and grant money to left-wing environmental and animal rights groups.

Now you know why Senator Smith and his cronies waited until the dark of night to avoid hearings, debates and questions. Under cover of night is how all monsters are born, from the Swamp Thing to Frankenstein's Monster to the "Son of CARA." This bill will now be referred to the House where a major effort must be made to defeat either its consideration or its passage. Add your voice to the protest. Let Speaker Dennis Hastert know that property rights in America must be protected.

Tom DeWeese is the publisher/editor of The DeWeese Report, a monthly newsletter on policy issues and is president of the American Policy Center, a grassroots, activist think tank headquartered in Warrenton, VA.
Tom DeWeese

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: enviralists; globalwarminghoax; michaeldobbs
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1 posted on 01/29/2002 4:52:01 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen
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To: Enviralists;Global Warming Hoax;Landgrab
2 posted on 01/29/2002 4:52:36 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen
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To: Stand Watch Listen
BUMP this abomination
3 posted on 01/29/2002 5:06:34 AM PST by MileHi
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To: farmfriend;editor-surveyor
4 posted on 01/29/2002 8:16:13 AM PST by Free the USA
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To: Stand Watch Listen
5 posted on 01/29/2002 8:52:54 AM PST by jeremiah
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To: Free the USA
Thanks for the flag. Hot issue for me.
6 posted on 01/29/2002 10:57:25 AM PST by farmfriend
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To: Stand Watch Listen
7 posted on 01/29/2002 11:02:26 AM PST by The Irishman
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