THIS IS AN EXPANDED VERSION OF THE OP ED PUBLISHED IN THE FAIRBANKS (ALASKA) DAILY NEWS-MINER, JULY 4, 2000 -- (Revision #1A)
Ray Kreig, an Anchorage engineering consultant and former president of Chugach Electric Association, is chairman of the Keep Private LANDS in Private HANDS Coalition¸Alaska. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
CONSERVATION DOLLARS NOT WORTH THE PRICE
by Ray Kreig
The Young-Murkowski Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA - HR701/S25) is supposed to bring lots of money to Alaska. And proponents say that CARA money "is not taxpayers dollars...it doesn't come out of your pocket! (Don Young, Alaska Public Radio interview, 6/1/99)"
Are there any negative consequences? YES!
CARA is not just another garden variety federal revenue sharing or grant program. Alaskans need to pay attention¸CARA creates a guaranteed, dedicated $45 billion federal trust fund for new spending to acquire private land, so-called coastal impact assistance, grants to fish and game agencies, environmental groups and a host of other noble-sounding purposes.
CARA will divert the $45 billion which is now deposited from offshore oil and gas revenues into the federal treasury. The money is now used for general fund purposes like reducing the deficit, saving social security and other federal obligations. When the money no longer flows into the treasury, taxes will have to go up, programs cut, or money printed and the debt passed on to future generations.
This bill is going to hurt real people¸hurt communities. It is not all painless peaches and cream as CARA boosters would like you to believe. Too many CARA proponents don't care about people¸all they talk about is money¸for their agencies, for their pet projects.
People will be hurt because of abuses that come with massive government land acquisition that has ineffective oversight that inevitably follows money supplied under broad statutory authority. And CARA moneys are by automatic, guaranteed appropriation.
For history of past abuses see: Testimony of Charles S Cushman, Executive Director of the American Land Rights Association www.senate.gov/~epw/cus_0524.htm ; Testimony of Stan Leaphart of State of Alaska, Citizens' Advisory Commission on Federal Areas ÷ www.landrights.org/OCS/OCS.leaphart.htm ; Institute of Human Rights Research, Inholder Socio-Cultural Assessments www.landrights.org/OCS/tab6.abuses.htm .
GOVERNMENT LAND BUYING
Do Alaskans really want a massive increase in government land buying? Already 90 percent government-owned, only 1/3 of 1 percent of Alaska is non-native corporation private land. CARA catastrophically increases Land and Water Conservation Fund spending for federal land acquisition 15 times. Even more CARA LWCF money for state land buying will be added to that. http://www.landrights.org/OCS/CARA.LWCF.AK.htm
CARA will have a profound effect on land ownership patterns and control over vast areas of Alaska.
Private inholdings will be wiped out over most areas of National Forests, Parks, Preserves, and Wildlife Refuges. The Federal Government will be left as the only landlord in these areas. There will be no choices in accommodations or visitor services except, possibly, federal concessionaires. Nothing in CARA mandates that the services on acquired private lands even be replaced.
Communities will be boxed in and extinguished. The cultural and land heritage represented by thousands of individual homesteads, cabins, mining claims, native allotments and some village corporation lands will be gone forever as the lands are acquired over time by the federal government.
We need to have a statewide discussion and make darn sure we have the right answer to the question: "Why should even one more acre of private land be transferred to government in Alaska?"
INCREASED FEDERAL CONTROL
Do Alaskans really want to see the power and authority of Federal Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt expanded? CARA gives lip service to the idea of states defining their own priorities early in the planning process, but this is negated by giving Babbitt final approval over use of 85 percent of the CARA money.
This is the same Babbitt who said "We've switched the rules, we are not trying to do anything legislatively (National Journal, 1999)". He has been walking that talk by straying widely from the intent of laws passed by Congress.
Look at the sad history of ANILCA "guarantees" of access and the promised right of communities, land owners and residents to continue their economic livelihood. It is obvious that Congress has been unable to control abuse by the administrative agencies. www.landrights.org/OCS/OCS.leaphart.htm
The first of many takings cases caused by National Park Service abridgement of these ANILCA "guarantees" was recently concluded in Federal District Court. And the NPS imposed final regulations further cutting off access to private lands at Kantishna and declaring an intent to explore restriction of snow machine use in NPS units throughout Alaska.
The recent blizzard of executive orders decreeing roadless areas, extreme environmental regulations and national monument declarations are an intensified "War on the West". Is it wise to grant more authority to the Federal Interior Secretary at the same time he is given a fire hose torrent of new CARA money to control.
[see WHY CARA IS FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE AND A THREAT TO LOCAL LAND USE DECISIONS (VanHelmond and Antonelli, Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1370, May 9, 2000) www.Heritage.org/library/backgrounder/bg1370.html
Under CARA he even gets to decide how the required state and local matching funds are spent.
SO-CALLED PRIVATE PROPERTY PROTECTIONS
Advocates claim CARA provides many "private property protections" that do not exist today.
These so-called "protections" affect only 15 percent of CARA money. Even then, they are of little use. Boise property rights consultant Fred Kelly Grant points out how CARA has been written so a fast scanner of the bill will notice certain catchy property rights protection phrases like, "just compensation", "willing seller requirement", and "nothing...shall authorize...property be taken" etc.
But close reading of the bill reveals these phrases are without operative effect or value. Sadly, it suggests that their inclusion by the bill sponsors amounts to a willful attempt to deceive the public. www.stewardsoftherange.org/fatal_flaws.htm
REDUCED ACCESS FOR SPORTSMEN ¸ MORE FEDERAL CONTROL OF HUNTING AND FISHING
CARA will reduce access for sportsmen on public lands by eliminating the inholdings that provide services like lodges.
While CARA land purchases are claimed to expand available hunting lands, the trend is for increasing interference in the management of federal lands for multiple use because each year the percentage of US voters who are rural or hunters declines.
Former National Wildlife Federation President and Director of the California Department of Fish and Game, Ray Arnett says that "CARA is destined to be a disaster for one of its intended beneficiaries, the sporting community of hunters and fishermen who are the true and best conservationists in America. The unprecedented flood of money provided by CARA will enable buying and turning over to the government, private lands historically and currently used for hunting and fishing. This will subject the property's sporting use to the whim of public opinion, and a bureaucracy increasingly hostile to sport hunting, fishing, trapping, and gun ownership." He was also the Federal Interior Department Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks (1981-1985). http://www.landrights.org/OCS/HuntFish/CARA_Arnett.11_5_99.htm
Even beyond the federal subsistence takeover, CARA provides the means for increased federal control over remaining fish and game matters in Alaska. And it authorizes funding to environmentalist organizations which have fought for decades to extinguish private property rights and deny federal land access and multiple use. (Fred Kelly Grant) www.stewardsoftherange.org/fatal_flaws.htm
NEW ENTITLEMENTS - GUARANTEED SPENDING
Worst of all is the assault on responsible management, good government process, and responsible management of the public's hard-earned tax dollars. CARA walls off seven new entitlements that will enshrine guaranteed new spending for:
Government land acquisition, pork-laden coastal area "impact" assistance, environmental groups, professional sports stadiums, wildlife and endangered species, Civil War battlefields, urban parks etc...
All at a protected HIGHER priority than:
Medical research, education, health care, national defense, veterans benefits, violent crime victim compensation, law enforcement, consumer protection, child welfare, and other services people need. These programs still will have to scramble to compete every year for every dollar.
In 1962 Congress had authority over 68% of the federal budget. By 1997, the growth of off-budget funds, entitlements, and the National Debt reduced this amount to only 34%. The CARA trust funds remove even more of federal revenues from the appropriations process and this erodes the ability of Congress to adjust to the changing needs of the country.
For this and other reasons, CARA has been widely condemned ¸ including by both newspapers in Washington DC, the liberal Washington Post ( www.landrights.org/OCS/CARA.bought-votes.htm ) and the conservative Washington Times ( www.landrights.org/OCS/CARA.IronCurtain.htm )
Here in Alaska, our state constitution is considered to be one of the most modern in the country precisely because it prohibits dedicated funds like CARA without a vote of the people.
And to get our share of the CARA money, Alaskans are going to have to come up with $30 million, every year, in required matching funds¸an amount equal to what the legislature was trying to cut from this year's budget. What new taxes do CARA proponents suggest? Why aren't they discussing this little secret with Alaskans?
CARA is a neutron bomb aimed at Rural America: Alaska's allies on ANWR! What are we are doing to our friends in the lower 48? We are developing quite a backlash of resentment over CARA with people we need in our battle to get ANWR opened and on other multiple use issues here.
REPUBLICAN PARTY RESOLUTION ÷ This bill contains so much in conflict with the values shared by most Alaskans ¸ Limited government, individual freedom, reducing the government land estate and encouragement of free enterprise ¸ that concerned delegates at the recent State Republican Party convention overwhelmingly passed a resolution against CARA, even though CARA's prime architects are Republican Congressman Don Young and Senator Frank Murkowski!
Alaskans need to pay attention and carefully scrutinize this claimed CARA largesse. Decades of CARA land buying and increasing federal control in our land use decisions will transform huge areas of Alaska. The price we'll pay for it¸as Alaskans and as Americans¸is too high!
STATUS OF CARA
Passed the House of Representatives on May 11, 2000 with 96% of the Democrats and 56% of the Republicans voting yes (315 to 102).
Now CARA is in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Senator Murkowski.
WHO IS AGAINST CARA?
Partial list of organizations opposed to CARA:
American Land Rights Association (By far the largest compilation of CARA information and links).
State of Alaska, Citizens' Advisory Commission on Federal Areas ÷ www.landrights.org/OCS/OCS.leaphart.htm
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Americans for Tax Reform
National Taxpayers Union
Alaska Miners Association ÷ www.landrights.org/OCS/OCS.hearing.anc.Borell.htm
National Center for Public Policy Research ÷ www.landrights.org/OCS/OCS.ridenour.htm
Alaska Republican Party ÷ www.landrights.org/OCS/CARA.RepPartyAK.palmer.htm
California Republican Party ÷ www.landrights.org/OCS/OCS.california.republican_party.htm
Be informed! Don't allow yourself to be snowed by CARA.
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