Washington, DC, July 24, 2001 – The U.S. House Committee on Resources is expected to vote this week on a bill 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 other free-market environmentalists in condemning this $45 billion bill, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA).<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Property rights advocates especially are concerned by the bill because of the billions of dollars it provides for additional government land acquisitions. “It is an affront to American taxpayers and a threat to both current property owners and anyone who wants to own property in the future,” said David Riggs, Director of Land and Natural Resource Policy at CEI. “In addition, CARA would threaten the ability of sportsmen to pursue hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation across the country.”
“Four of every ten acres in the United States are already owned by federal, state, county or local governments,” commented Allison Freeman, environmental policy analyst at CEI. “Most of this land is grossly mismanaged, including sixty percent of the national forests that are considered to be in a ‘very unhealthy’ condition. Transferring well-managed private lands into the hands of federal bureaucrats is the height of irresponsibility.”
The bill would also create several off-budget trust funds using money that is now flowing directly into the U.S. Treasury. Pulling these funds out without corresponding cuts in the budget demonstrates the lie in the claim that CARA projects are funded from current revenue. The trust funds also set up a state-federal matching grant program which will put greater tax burdens on taxpayers in states that have to match federal dollars for new land purchases.
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