Oklahoma senator’s bill targets controversial U.N. Agenda 21 plan
A state senator is calling for a legal ban to city membership in groups tied to the United Nation’s controversial Agenda 21.
Agenda 21 is the U.N.’s comprehensive plan of global, national and local action to help preserve the environment in the 21st Century. Originally drafted in 1992 with input from the George H.W. Bush administration, the agenda has become a rallying point for tea party Republicans and others concerned about the threat of one-world government.
Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, said his Senate Bill 23 is based on a bill that was passed by Alabama lawmakers last year and is aimed in part at cutting off state support for the groups pushing limits on property owner rights.
As a farmer, Anderson said he is concerned about the federal government – pushed by the U.N.’s agenda of sustainability – forcing rules on a wide variety of things, including the creation of dust and how land can be used.
“There’s a place for all that, but we also need to make sure we’re not infringing on the property owners’ rights to use their own land,” Anderson said.
The first and best steward of how land should be used is the private owner, he said.
Mark Irwin, a rancher in Garfield and Woods counties, asked Anderson to offer the bill.
While some of the concerns about Agenda 21 may seem far-fetched, Irwin said it is important for the state to take a stand in defense of private land ownership and against efforts to collectivize Americans into compact cities.
A group that acted as technical representative of the U.S. in the formation of Agenda 21 – the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives – lists 1,012 communities in 84 countries as members. Only one of the listed member communities is in Oklahoma – Tulsa.
For the record, ICLEI says it isn’t an arm of Agenda 21 and the city says its isn’t a member of the ICLEI any more.
“There is no truth to this conspiracy theory,” the ICLEI says on its website. “ICLEI is a nonprofit with no authority over its local government members whatsoever, and we do not work in secret or in any way circumvent public input in decision-making processes.
“We do not mandate, impose, or enforce any national or international policies or initiatives. All ICLEI programs and projects are voluntary, and local governments decide for themselves which programs they wish to participate in; they define their own goals depending on local circumstances, interests, and abilities.”
Brett Fidler, Tulsa director of sustainability, said the city maintained a membership in the ICLEI in 2009 and 2010, but no local taxes were used to pay the bill. The city paid its $2,750 annual membership dues out of a $3.9 million U.S. Energy Department grant that was part of the Obama administration’s stimulus package.
The rest of the grant money was used for energy efficiency projects, including 1,600 new LED traffic signals in downtown Tulsa, new surgical theater lighting for the OSU Medical Center, new taxiway lighting for Tulsa’s airports and lighting for the city’s Performing Arts Center, Fidler said.
The lighting changes have saved the city money on its utility bills and have replaced incandescent bulbs that were hotter, were more fragile and produced less light with LED alternatives, he said. Tulsa’s airports have reported 41 percent savings in electricity costs. The OSU Medical Center is saving slightly more than $200,000 a year, he said.
Federal officials allowed the city to use the stimulus package funding for the ICLEI membership dues, Fidler said. Initially, the city thought it might be able to use the group’s energy management software, but ultimately the city ended up purchasing software privately, he said.
“Any discussions we had were not of an international nature,” Fidler said. “We never one time discussed Agenda 21. They served a purpose when we went through our grant process.”
The city has asked that its name be taken off the group’s website, but the group hasn’t responded to the request, Fidler said.
What is Agenda 21?
It was originally drafted by the United Nations and national governments at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.
Agenda 21 is not a treaty or legally binding document and it has never been considered by Congress.
Tea party Republicans and others suspect that Agenda 21 is a means of dissolving national sovereignty and the rights of private landowners.
A nonbinding state Senate Resolution, written by Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, said the U.N. Agenda 21 is “a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control” that is “being covertly pushed into local communities throughout the United States of America through the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives.”
The agenda is hidden in less controversial catch phrases such as “smart growth,” “wildlands project,” “resilient cities,” “regional visioning projects,” and other “green” projects, the resolution says.
The ICLEI says that it is a domestic, nonprofit agency that isn’t a direct part of the United Nations or its agenda.
“Sustainability is a mainstream concept, and sustainability initiatives in government, corporate America, academia, and local communities typically have no connection to Agenda 21,” the group’s website says.
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