Washington, D.C., May 11, 2000 – In the same week the national laboratories at Los Alamos were evacuated due to out-of-control wildfire on government lands, the House of Representatives voted to increase federal land holdings through the creation of a $3 billion dedicated land acquisition fund. Property rights activists, taxpayer groups, and free-market environmentalists instantly condemned the bill.
"Passage of the Young-Miller-Tauzin-Dingell land grab bill is a tremendous defeat for private property ownership, hunting, and sound conservation," commented noted conservationist R.J. Smith, senior environmental scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. "Four of every ten acres in the United States is already owned and managed by state, local or federal governments," Smith noted, adding that most of this land is grossly mismanaged. "There is nothing worse for our nation’s wildlands than to be managed by Uncle Sam," Smith said.
Property rights advocates were particularly distraught by the bill, which would provide substantial money for additional government land purchases. H.R. 701’s sponsors, led by House Resources Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK), defeated amendments that would have prevented any of the bill’s funds from being used to acquire funds through eminent domain. "Chairman Young sacrificed his support for 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.
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