Ellen Sauerbrey: Power to the Bureaucrats

By: Ellen Sauerbrey

On October 31st, Carroll County Maryland and several private organizations hosted a forum on Plan Maryland, an Annapolis power grab that threatens private property rights, local land use decision making and economic development. Plan Maryland, is a “Sustainable Growth” or “Smart Growth” plan that makes many unfounded environmental assumptions as a basis of changing our way of life.

Expert speakers challenged many of the assumptions put forward by the O”Malley Administration to back up their call for a State Development Plan, State Transportation Plan, State Housing Plan and strategies to address Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Food, Water, Energy. Plan Maryland transfers power from accountable local elected officials to unelected state bureaucrats.

Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild has been the Paul Revere on this issue, working tirelessly to awaken local governments in both Maryland and other states about this international “Sustainable Growth” movement that began as a UN blueprint for action called “Agenda 21”. Agenda 21 calls for action to be ” taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans directly affect the environment”. But unfortunately, the environmental movement has been hijacked as a convenient excuse to attack capitalism; transfer wealth; impinge on private property rights; and foster a government run socio-economic system.

In 1992 President George HW Bush signed a ‘declaration’ in support of Agenda 21 that stated “Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced…” President Bill Clinton signed an executive order (2852) in 1993 that organized left-wing groups into a new President’s Council on Sustainable Growth to translate Agenda 21 into public policy administered by the federal government.

President Clinton’s advisor on Sustainable Growth was quoted saying, “Participating in a U.N. advocated planning process would very likely bring out many …right wing conspiracy groups…who would actively work to defeat any elected official…undertaking Local Agenda 21. So we call our process something else, such as “comprehensive planning,” “growth management,” or “smart growth.”

The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) was created to implement Agenda 21 at the local level. Harvey Rubin, recent Vice Chair of the ICLEI gave insight into the agenda when he declared “individual rights will have to take a back seat to the collective.”

ICLEI USA’s stated mission is “to build, serve, and drive a movement of local governments to advance deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and achieve tangible improvements in local sustainability.” It acts as a consultant and resource-sharing network to its local government members. ICLEI includes over 1227 local government members worldwide in 70 countries, with more than 600 in the United States and is training “planners” in the development of plans like Plan Maryland.

Carroll County is the first county in the U.S. to withdraw from the ICLEI. The Commissioners recognize that the agenda being promoted is an attack on Middle America , finding our current lifestyles and consumption patterns involving high meat intake, the use of fossil fuels, electrical appliances, home and work-place air-conditioning, and suburban housing – are not sustainable.

Plan Maryland is a draft executive order scheduled to be signed by Governor O’Malley in November . The plan has not been voted on by any legislative body. The underlying goal has been described as a “war on rural America”, forcing development into “stack um and pack um” urban communities, and “no growth” in much of the rest of the state.

It will menace farmers by dramatically reducing land values in rural communities, making it difficult for farmers to obtain necessary lines of credit. A Farm Bureau letter states, “If Plan Maryland goes unchallenged, the unelected Secretary (of State Planning) Hall automatically becomes the land czar of Maryland, controlling where we live and where we work”. The Farm Bureau also expresses concern that the Secretary of the Environment may be given the authority to veto the subdivision of property.

The plan focuses on the future of transportation, since the automobile is seen as a major threat to the environment. There is a strong bias in favor of mass transit., which we are already seeing in the inequitable distribution of Transportation Trust Funds to transit rather than roads. And of course the higher the gas tax and tolls, the less people will be able to afford to drive

While it is characterized as a voluntary plan it will utilize a carrot and stick approach. Counties that do not comply with the edicts of state bureaucrats can be denied state funding. In addition to state funds, federal grants will be available to counties that accept the goals of “Sustainability.”

Something has gone terribly wrong when an unelected bureaucracy, by Executive fiat, can be given this much control over so many decisions affecting our fundamental rights.

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