A group of Republican legislators fears a 1992 United Nations statement about “sustainable development” will lead to Soviet-style “collectivism” in Iowa.
Representative Ralph Watts, a Republican from Adel, is among those who’re backing a bill that would prohibit state and local governments in Iowa from supporting or implementing “sustainable development practices” outlined in the U.N.’s Agenda 21.
“There’s some signals out there that we need to be concerned about. This is not tinfoil hat stuff, I guarantee you,” Watts said this morning. “A lot of people haven’t focused on it. They really aren’t aware of it, but it’s very real.”
Bob Mulqueen, a lobbyist for the Iowa Environmental Council, said the U.N. document was drafted 21 years ago and is not a threat to property rights in the United States.
“Some people have some ideas that they pull out of a hat that I don’t know where they come from,” Mulqueen told reporters.
Representative Dawn Pettengill, a Republican from Mount Auburn, fears the U.N. vision eventually will force Americans to move out of small towns and live in cities. Pettengill misses her home in rural Iowa while she’s staying in Des Moines to serve in the legislature.
“Last night I woke up at 1:15 — around there — and, living right next to I-80, I couldn’t go back to sleep for two hours because I live in the country and I don’t hear a sound — it could be a feral cat or something,” Pettengill said, “but you don’t hear a sound and you can go right back to sleep.”
Representative Watts argued the U.N.’s Agenda 21 is part of a more wide-ranging plan that will lead to government ownership of property.
“I came into the legislature 11 years ago and one of the hot topics then was the discussion of climate change and over the years I’ve researched that issue and come to realize a long time ago that the issue of climate science, climate change has nothing to do with climate or science,” Watts said. “It has to do with the control of resources and the control of private property rights when you get right down to the basics of it.”
According to Watts,. the right to own property is fundamental to economic growth in the United States.
“Private property rights are completely foreign to many of those entities that govern the (United Nations),” Watts said. “Private property rights around the world simply don’t exist in most cases.”
During a subcommittee meeting about the issue this morning, Ernie Rudolph of the Iowa Property Rights Council told legislators the federal government is using grants to get local governments to take away the rights of property owners.
“It is a way of the federal government asking or incenting or nudging local governments to enact rules, regulations and laws that they are constitutionally prohibited from doing,” Rudolph said.
Rudoph is especially upset by state-sanctioned “watershed management” that seeks to — in his words — “push the water back into the farmlands” — so it doesn’t end up downstream. Others suggested the bill might prevent cities like Cedar Rapids from taking steps to prevent flooding in the future.