THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE RECENTLY PASSED A RESOLUTION UNANIMOUSLY OPPOSING AGENDA 21 AND INSTRUCTING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO OPPOSE IT. REPUBLICAN MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE-SENATE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE CANNOT IGNORE THIS.
By Rachel Alexander l June 8, 2012
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)/Kitty Felde-KPCC
The Senate transportation bill known as MAP-21 should really be called Agenda 21. MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (S. 1813) is sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat from California and chairman of the Senate transportation committee aka the Environment and Public Works Committee. Cosponsors include Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), James Inhofe (R-OK) and David Vitter (R-LA). MAP-21 mirrors many provisions in Agenda 21, the United Nations’ plan for global “sustainable development” aka global income redistribution. Agenda 21 has been stealthily adopted throughout local, state and federal governments all across the nation through innocuously named programs. Now, more extreme environmental regulations are about to be forced on Americans by tacking them onto a transportation bill.
Created at the 1992 “Rio Earth Summit” in Brazil, the United Nations “Agenda 21” program established a framework for implementing global “sustainable development.” President George H.W. Bush and 177 other world leaders, who signed the initial agreement, pledged to adopt the goals of Agenda 21. The name reportedly means an agenda for the 21st Century. “Sustainable development” refers to broadening environmental protectionism to integrate economic, social and environmental policies for the purpose of achieving reduced consumption, social justice, and the preservation and restoration of biodiversity – an amorphous measure of the condition of earth’s ecosystems as a function of alleged climate change. The Rio agreement established an International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (“ICLEI”) under the UN that would make agreements directly with local governments.
A House-Senate conference committee convened in early May consisting of 47 members – 14 Senators and 33 Representatives – to reconcile MAP-21 with the two House extensions of SAFETEA-LU – H.R. 4281 and H.R. 4348 – that expire on June 30th and September 30th respectively.
These bills go way beyond transportation. They include over $6.8 billion in new non-Highway Trust Fund spending that has nothing to do with highways. Dominated by MAP-21, the legislation to be reconciled is full of many questionable restrictions and mandates reauthorizing $100 billion of bloated federal highway and transit handouts without an adequate funding mechanism. Funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) is increased drastically, from $122 million to $1.2 billion. About a quarter of the expenditures are unfunded by projected revenues. To fund them, MAP-21 takes $2 billion in 2012 and another $2 billion in 2013 from general revenues in the Treasury. It is no secret anymore that the Highway Trust Fund is bankrupt due to diversions, earmarks, overspending and the lack of political courage to index the gas tax to inflation to cover rising costs, so smoke and mirrors funding provisions have been added to the bill. There are no spending cuts as offsets to pay for the bill.
Transportation Enhancement (TE) Activities = Agenda 21
The main culprit contained in MAP-21 that involves the diversion of Highway Trust Fund dollars is euphemistically known as ‘transportation enhancement’ (TE) activities, a 20-year set-aside program that originated with the ISTEA transportation bill aka the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. As a result, federal highway dollars are being diverted away from surface transportation needs over to spending on bike paths, landscaping, scenic overlooks, visitors’ centers, museums, billboard removal, archeological digs and historic preservation – all tantamount to Agenda 21 sustainability provisions.
WLT, the Washington Letter on Transportation, reported in its April 9th issue: “The Senate TE changes – inserted into the final bill by unanimous consent on the Senate floor on March 7 – appear designed to deny state departments of transportation the full authority to decide which types of ‘enhancements’ are funded with federal dollars, thus unraveling a key element of the TE ‘compromise’ that was supposedly reached only three months earlier among leaders and members of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee at its markup of S.1813 on Nov. 9, 2011.”
TE as advanced to conference becomes a blatant power grab by Agenda 21 adherents, whereby authority to expend resources provided in MAP-21 shifts from state DOTs to MPOs or Metropolitan Planning Organizations that are one step removed from the state political process and that much closer to “where advocacy for TE ‘livability’ enhancements such as bike paths is much greater.”
MAP-21 requires states and regions to establish targets for achieving six sets of performance measures related to transportation. They include the Agenda 21 goals of congestion mitigation, improving air quality to arbitrary standards, and increasing mandates for public transportation. States that do not meet the standards set by the Secretary of Transportation will lose their funding.
$57 million is directed for a clean fuels program. MAP-21 mandates a plan to build a high speed rail system in the Northeast corridor. States are required to come up with consistent plans of their own in order to receive grant funding. MAP-21 expands the number of public-private partnerships, which are little more than wasteful crony capitalism and government sanctioned monopolies. More bike paths will be funded with federal dollars. Public-private partnerships are also a means to provide stop-gap funding for shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund due to diversions, set-asides, earmarks, and general wasteful spending of the motorists’ hard earned tax dollars. At the end of the day, it becomes a vicious circle.
$3.3 billion is directed to the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program. Funds will be provided to states and MPOs that can only be used for certain types of transportation projects. They cannot be used to construct new travel lanes except for HOV or HOT lanes. 50% of the funds will be allocated only to larger MPOs which comply with arbitrary national ambient air quality standards.
MAP-21 includes a new crackdown on diesel emissions. Certain types of MPOs will be required to spend 15% of their sub-allocated funds in this area on projects that reduce diesel related pollution at highway construction projects.
Urban transit agencies are required to use at least 0.5% of their formula funds for tasks like increasing minority and female employment in transit, providing training and assistance for minority business opportunities, and furthering training related to maintaining environmentally friendly vehicles and facilities.
Other Liberty-Robbing MAP-21 Provisions
The bill infringes on constitutionally protected rights. Section 31406 of MAP-21 calls for “Mandatory Event Data Recorders” (black boxes) to be included in all passenger cars by the year 2015. This Big Brother tracking, monitoring and surveillance apparatus could eventually be used to track where Americans are at anytime It could be used to implement a carbon tax, taxing people based on how many miles they drive.
Another controversial provision would authorize the IRS to revoke the passports of Americans accused of owing more than $50,000 in back taxes, and could prohibit them from owning a gun. This infringes both upon our freedom to travel and the right to keep and bear arms.
MAP-21 passed the Senate 74-22 on March 14, 2012. All 22 no votes came from Republicans. On the House side, Speaker John Boehner drafted a version of the bill devoid of the Agenda 21 provisions. Instead, H.R. 4348 includes an authorization for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In its current form, H.R. 4348 is little more than a 90-day extension of the current transportation program (through September 2012).
MAP-21 is bad because it is unsustainable. Ironically, it claims to promote sustainability. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) warned: “The highway bill is so popular that members on both sides of the aisle are willing to kick the can down the road … But passing a bill that spends money over 18 months and tries to recoup it over a 10 year period is a road to insolvency.” In the meantime, Senator Barbara Boxer is managing to steer the UN’s Agenda 21 provisions through the transportation reauthorization process, with the ascent of compliant Republicans looking to bring home the bacon.
The Republican National Committee recently passed aresolution unanimously opposing Agenda 21 and instructing members of Congress to oppose it. Republican members of the House and Senate cannot ignore this. MAP-21 is little more than Agenda 21 tacked onto an extension of an already bloated transportation bill. Although it may be too late in the Senate, Republicans in the House must stand up to any compromise that includes the Agenda 21 provisions. Unfortunately, they may be more willing to compromise our nation’s sovereign rights away in order to keep the Keystone XL Pipeline provision in the bill – nothing more than an illusion of energy independence.
Rachel Alexander is the founder of the Intellectual Conservative and an attorney. Ms. Alexander is also a contributor to