Dark-of-Night Land Grab (S. 990) Defeated!

November 21, 2002

-From the American Land Rights Association

Senate Bill #990, which was a massive expansion of the Endangered Species Act combined with hundreds of millions in new land acquisition, was exposed to the light of day for the first time this week.

And thousands of grassroots activists across the country said NO WAY!

And the United States Senate heard you LOUD AND CLEAR!!!!!!!!

S. 990 could not stand up to public scrutiny this week and was NOT brought up for a vote in the Senate. The Senate just concluded its session for the year, and S.990 is right where it belongs…in the dustbin!!!

YOU MADE THE DIFFERENCE!!!!

The Endangered Species Act certainly needs changes. But there should be input from the public, debate and discussion should occur in the light of day, and there should be a record of who is for and against various proposals.

NONE of that occurred with S.990. This was a dark-of-night land grab promoted in the back rooms of Washington, DC, by powerful environmental organizations seeking to:

– greatly expand their favorite law, the Endangered Species Act,

– convert more lands from private property to government ownership, and

– line their pockets with more, more and more grant money from taxpayers.

S. 990 and other ideas to change the Endangered Species Act may be considered in Congress next year. But it should be done out in the open.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOUR calls, YOUR faxes, YOUR emails made the difference in demanding consideration for private property rights, multiple use of federal lands, and OPEN GOVERNMENT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Take a look at the legislative history of S.990:

***S. 990 was first approved by the United States Senate just before Christmas in 2001. It was after the last roll call vote of the year, Nearly MIDNIGHT, with no debate, and voted through by “unanimous consent” – when only three Senators were present, everyone else having gone home to their home states!

***S. 990 then languished in the House of Representatives Resources Committee for ELEVEN MONTHS. Property rights activists, having been caught unprepared by the Senate’s sneak action, wanted an open discussion about the Endangered Species Act in the light of day. But there were NO hearings, NO debate, NO votes, NO action on the bill for eleven months.

***Then, late in November 2002, Resources Committee Chairma James V. Hansen of Utah, who is retiring from Congress, got into “Legacy Mode.” He decided to create a legacy for himself at taxpayer expense. He stuffed S.990 with pork projects for Utah. These included the James V. Hansen Shoshone Trail, which cost $2 million, and construction of a visitor center at the Bear River Bird Refuge for $11 million, which upon completion would be named after – you guessed it – James V. Hansen!

***In the wee hours of Friday morning, November 15, 2002, the second sneak attack was launched. Hansen brought S.990 to the House floor and gained approval by “unanimous consent” – after nearly every congressman had gone home, at 2:35am!

HOWEVER – because it was changed in the House, the revised version of S.990 now had to be given final approval in the Senate.

Property rights activists had been burned twice, and would not be caught again!

******** GRASSROOTS UPRISING !!!!!!!! ********

The “Big Green” enviro-machine had only three days to get S.990 through the Senate, which was already packed with a full agenda of other legislation.

They could not risk an open debate, which would expose S.990’s flaws. They would need one more dark-of-nite “unanimous consent” sneak attack in order to slide S.990 through.

But it was not to be.

Property owners large and small, cabin owners, inholders, farmers, foresters, ranchers, miners, four-wheelers, anyone who wants to make reasonable use of their private property, or who makes recreational or commercial use of federal lands, rose up and spoke out!

For the past three days, Senate offices were swamped with calls, faxes and emails DEMANDING open discussion of changes to the Endangered Species Act!

Many Senators listened to their constituents and placed a “hold” on S.990.

A “hold” places a temporary delay on legislation. With only three days in session, Monday through Wednesday, November 18 to 20, it would be enough to stop the Endangered Species Land Grab.

The Big Green enviro’s point man on S.990 is leftwing Senator Harry Reid of Nevada. Reid worked desperately to convince Senators to remove their “holds” and allow S.990 to slip through without a vote or debate. But with the grassroots tide rising and the light of day shining on S.990, there was no way.

ACTION ITEM – Pat yourself on the back. YOU DID IT

Tom DeWeese
[email protected]

Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.