Congress to Make Land Ownership the “Impossible Dream”

Congress to Make Land Ownership the “Impossible Dream”

Mark-Up of CARA Will Spell Disaster for Taxpayers, Landowners, Environment
July 18, 2000

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Washington, D.C., July 18, 2000 – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets today to mark up a bill that would increase  government land ownership through the creation of a $45 billion dedicated land acquisition fund.  The Competitive Enterprise Institute joins property rights activists, taxpayer groups, and free-market environmentalists in condemning this bill, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA).

“The bill is an affront to American taxpayers and Congressional accountability.  It is a threat to American property owners and anyone who wants to own property in the future.  And massive government land acquisition will do great harm to the environment,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Environment and Trade Policy at the CEI.  “A ‘No’ vote on the bill will be a vote for fiscal responsibility, private property owners, and good environmental stewardship.”

 

“Four of every ten acres in the United States is already owned and managed by state, local or federal governments,” commented noted conservationist R.J. Smith, senior environmental scholar at CEI. “Most of this land is grossly mismanaged, including sixty percent of national forests that are already in a very unhealthy condition. There is nothing worse for our nation’s wildlands than to be managed by Uncle Sam.”

 

Property rights advocates are particularly concerned by the bill, which would provide substantial money for additional government land purchases.  The Murkowski—Bingaman compromise stripped the one minor protection for property owners.  “Senator Murkowski sacrificed sound fiscal policy and property rights to obtain new pork for Alaska,” commented R.J. Smith.  Alaska and other coastal states, including those states adjacent to the Great Lakes, are eligible for substantial funding under the bill.

Taxpayer groups and fiscal conservatives challenged the need to create a gigantic trust fund for more government ownership of land.  The bill was also repeatedly criticized by The Washington Post which chastised Congressional leaders for proposing a dedicated trust fund that could threaten Medicare, social security, and continued deficit reduction.

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 209 or emcgee@cei.org.