29 Mar U.S. House Approves Legislation Requiring Congressional & Public Oversight Over U.N. Land Designations Within The United States
Washington, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation which will require public participation and Congressional approval for the controversial United Nations’ land designations within U.S. borders was approved today by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The legislation (H.R. 883) – “The American Land Sovereignty Protection Act” – was approvede by a voice vote, as amended (see Page 2 for amendments). U.S. Sen. Ben nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) has introduced similar legislation (S. 510) in the Senate.
Similar legislation was approved in the 105th Congress.
H.R. 883 was introduced by U.S. Rep. Don Young (R – Alaska), the Chairman of the House Committee on Resourcwes, which has jurisdiction over federal lands issues. H.R. 883 would require public input and Congressional approval of all proposed U.N. land reserves in the United States. There are currently 83 U.N. land designations in existence in the United States – almost all of which were designated with little or no participation from the local communities in the area or by Congress. These include 47 Biosphere Reserves, 20 World Heritage Sites and 16 Ramsar Sites.
Currently, international land designations in the United States are negotiated solely between the United Nations ande the Executive Branch. In addition, local citizens affected by U.N. land designations are rarely asked about their concerns and broad-based public input is not required.
“This Bill Guarantees Local Citizens Will Participate in Process” – Rep. Don Young
“This legislation finally will mandate the clear and direct approval of Congress before land in the United States may be designated for inclusion in a United Nations land use program,” Rep. Don Young said. “More importantly, it guarantees that local citizens and public officials will participate in designating land for inclusion in the United Nations land reserves that are near their homes or communities.
“I can understand why United Nations officials from foreign nations oppose H.R. 883. But I find it unusual that some members of the Democratic leadership spoke so strongly against the public and Congress being involved in this process,” Young said.
Two Amendments Approved To Legislation
During the floor debate, the House approved two amendments:
1) An amendment sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Sweeney (R – NY) which requires that U.S. management plans for U.N. Biosphere Reserves do not reduce state and local revenues for public education. This amendment protects local and state tax bases from potential adverse impacts caused by Biosphere Reserve designations. The Sweeney amendmant was approved by a 407 to 15 vote.
2) An amendment sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bruce Vento (D – MN) which states that no federal official can enter into an agreement with a foreign entity or foreign individual for the disposal or use of any federal lands unless authorized by law. The Vento amendment was approved by a 262 to 158 vote.
“The Vento amendment could cause numerous problems for foreign tourists and legal immigrants.” said Rep. Don Young. “Under this amendment, foreign visitors could be denied access to America’s national parks because it would require a U.S. Park Service employee selling a ticket to a foreign individual for the ‘use’ of federal land.”
“In addition, the Vento amendment could deny a legal immigrant in the United States from even setting up a hot-dog stand on the Capitol or any other federal land because of foreign status. I intend to remove this unwise and unfair provision once the Senate approves the legislation,” Young said.
“H.R. 883 is Necessary To Protect Property Owners” – Rep Pombo
“Like so many other agencies within the United Nations, the Heritage Area program has become a power hungry, bureaucracy that seeks to override the laws of nations,” said U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo (R – CA). “H.R. 883, which will require congressional approval of United Nations actions, is necessary to protect property owners and retain American control over our own public lands.”
“We Are Just Asking That Congress & American Public
Have The Last Word In The Decision” – Rep. Peterson
“The concept of this bill is solid and simple – give Americans control over America! said U.S. Rep. John Peterson (R – PA). “We are not asking for anything unreasonable. We are just asking that Congress and the American public have the last word in the decision to include American soil in a U.N. land designation.”
“Private Property Should Not Fall Under Non-American Jurisdiction” – Re. Schaffer
“Under no circumstances should private property fall under the authority of any non-American jurisdiction whatsoever. In America, the unmolested freedom to hold private property is the bedrock of liberty,” said U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer (R – CO).
Executive Branch Can No Longer Bypass Congress – Rep. Simpson
“Our public lands are an American treasure. But the executive branch has decided American land can be put into international reserves, without the consent of Congress. The American Land Sovereignty Act says to the president, ‘No more’,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R – ID).
For more information, please check the House Committee on Resources Home Page at http://www.house.gov/resources