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President Clinton's latest strategy to address global warming might best be described as "Clinton-Lite": It has half the controversy of his previous strategy, but the same bad economic aftertaste.
On October 22, the President unveiled his long-awaited strategy for the upcoming negotiations in Kyoto, Japan aimed at reducing world emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). The plan calls for reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. To do so, the President has promised $5 billion in tax credits and other incentives to encourage the development of more environment-friendly technologies. But he has also called for the development of an international emissions trading scheme, a system that would ostensibly achieve GHG reductions with less economic disruption by allowing U.S. companies to evade strict emission limits by buying unused emission credits from overseas. But the principal difference between tradeable emission permits and the leading alternative, a carbon tax, seems to be that one is called a "permit" and the other is called a "tax," making the former less controversial and thus more politically feasible. In practice, however, there is little difference between the two. If companies must buy permits to emit GHGs, it will have the same economic impact as a carbon tax. In fact, the respected econometrics firm The WEFA Group has estimated that tradeable permits would result in a cumulative loss in Gross Domestic Product over 20 years of $3.3 trillion. For more information, contact David Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research @ (202) 507-6398 or refer to the website @ www.nationalcenter.org.
There's a way property owners can evade the President's "American Heritage Rivers Initiative" land grab: Simply have their local government officials and/or U.S. Representatives to write a letter to Kathleen McGinty, Chair of the President's Council on Environmental Quality (Executive Office of the President, Washington, D.C. 20503), saying that they want no part of the new program.
On September 11, President Clinton signed an Executive Order launching the American Heritage Rivers initiative for purposes of "natural resource and environmental protection, economic revitalization, and historic and cultural preservation."
Although the order instructs federal agencies to respect private property and specifies that the initiative will create no new regulatory authority, many property owners are still concerned that the new program will amount to little more than another federal land grab. They have good reason to be alarmed: For one thing, federal agencies can use the lure of federal aid to get local governments to do much of the dirty work. Because American Heritage River (AHR) designation means the flow of federal dollars, some communities will be willing to impose new restrictions on private property to obtain one of only ten AHR designations chosen this year. Given its past record on private property rights, the Clinton Administration won't hesitate to use this leverage to impose its will over private property in pursuit of its environmental and preservationist objectives. Second, the initiative will create the position of "river navigator" in communities obtaining AHR designations. The river navigator will be charged with lining up federal and private resources to carry out river revitalization plans. Critics fear that the position will be used to influence local zoning decisions. Thus far, the Council on Environmental Quality has been unwilling to promise that the river navigator will stay out of such decisions. There are other concerns as well. For example, the Clinton Administration plans to reappropriate funds approved by Congress for other purposes to fund the program, circumventing normal democratic processes. Observers fear that this will allow the President to use AHR designations in a partisan political manner. AHR designations and the federal cash that go with them are liable be used to bolster Democrat Members of Congress facing tough re-election races.
Among the most likely rivers for AHR designation are the Willamette (OR), Yellowstone (MT, WY), French Broad (TN, NC), Rio Grande (TX), Mississippi (MN, WI, IA, IL, MO, KY, TN, AR, LA), Hudson (NY), Connecticut (VT, NH, MA, CT), St. Johns (FL), James (VA), Tennessee (TN), Potomac (WV, MD, VA) and the Columbia (WA, OR). People who own property near these rivers should be particularly concerned.
But there is a way out of the American Heritage Rivers initiative. Kathleen McGinty, Chair of the President's Council on Environmental Quality, has promised that local communities as well as their U.S. Representative will have veto power over all AHR designations. But they must communicate their opposition by December 10, 1997, the day nominations for AHR designation will close. Sample resolutions opposing AHR designation and other information is available through Liberty Matters' fax back system at 518/725-7890. Ask for document #200. For additional information, call David Ridenour @ (202) 507-6398.
The New "Clinton-Lite" Global Warming Strategy: Half the Controversy, Same Bad Aftertaste. Quick-read, two-page paper showing that the President's latest approach to reducing greenhouse gas emission, while less controversial, will be every bit as devastating to the U.S. economy if implemented.
Posthaste Facts on the Environment are succinct postcards detailing stories of personal tragedy resulting from excessive regulation or overzealous regulators. New releases include:
For copies of any of the above, contact our office at @ (202) 507-6398
or visit our website at www.nationalcenter.org.
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