Senate Committee Threatens Private Landownership

Senate Committee Threatens Private Landownership

Passage of CARA Spells Disaster for Property Owners, Taxpayers, Environment
July 25, 2000

Washington, D.C., July 25, 2000 – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today reported a bill to the Senate floor that would massively increase government land ownership and waste additional billions of dollars on pork barrel projects.  The Competitive Enterprise Institute joins property rights activists, taxpayer groups, farmers, ranchers, senior citizens, and free-market environmentalists in condemning this $45 billion bill, the so-called Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA). <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

“It is an affront to American taxpayers and a threat to property owners and anyone who wants to own property in the future,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Environment and Trade Policy at the CEI.  “The seven Senators who voted No—Senators Domenici, Nickles, Gorton, Craig, Burns, Campbell, and Thomas—are to be applauded for putting principles above special interests.”  Republican Senators Murkowski, Bunning, Gordon Smith, and Fitzgerald joined all nine Democrats on the committee to pass the bill. 

“Four of every ten acres in the United States are already owned by federal, state, county and local governments,” commented noted conservationist R.J. Smith, Senior Environmental Scholar at the CEI.  “Most of this land is grossly mismanaged, including sixty percent of the 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.  Transferring well-managed private lands into the hands of federal bureaucrats is the height of irresponsibility and folly.  The federal land mismanagement that has increasingly burned our national forests and parks are proof of failure.” 

Property rights advocates are particularly concerned by the bill, which provides billions of dollars for additional government land acquisitions.  The committee rejected Senator Nickles’s amendment restricting federal land acquisition to land offered by willing sellers only.  Nickles said, “This bill does not protect land. That is a guise or head fake.  Landowners are going to find their lands are taken quite often.” 

R.J. Smith concluded, “Senators Murkowski and Fitzgerald sacrificed sound fiscal policy and property rights for pork.  Their new GOP mantra is ‘pork over principles.’”

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.