Tammy McMahan spoke at the February 17, 2011 LRW Monthly Meeting on the "Green" and "Zero Waste" initiatives underway that are threatening our property, liberties, and our free markets. As conservatives we must get involved or we face a future designed by progressives. Below are the notes she used for the talk and which she has kindly shared with us.
Sustainability, Agenda 21 and ICLEI
Hello – I'd like to thank Peg Cage for giving me the chance to speak with you and I would also like to thank all of you for taking your time to learn about one of the biggest current threats to our property, our liberties, our free markets and our United States Constitution. As conservatives we must get involved or we face a future designed by progressives.
We hear the word sustainability a lot, it is in the newspaper, the cities and counties talk about, our Governor talks about it, and our kids are learning about it in school. Most are all onboard with not only the word, but the concepts of sustainability. The word itself sounds good, we all realize we have a moral and ethical obligation to care for our planet and leave resources for future generations.
However, the concepts of sustainability are a threat to our very lifestyle. They patently endorse man made climate change and base policies on reducing green house gases. Other words we hear with sustainability development are comprehensive land use, smart growth, livable communities, walkable communities and carbon free communities. What do all these words have in common? They are the words that are being used to promote and implement Agenda 21.
Sustainable Development, Agenda 21 and ICLEI, or Local Governments for Sustainability, are the same thing. The programs are each a vision of what environmentalists and progressives have decided our future will be. Many organizations, in conjunction with ICLEI, are committed to sustainability; the amount of funding for these programs is huge and most of the funds are tax dollars.
Sustainability is a word which is meant to make us feel warm and fuzzy, after all we all want to be good custodians of our world, and we all want to leave a better place for future generations. The most popular definition of sustainability is ""Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
It isn't politically correct to be against plans for a sustainably future. However, once I researched these plans, it was obvious this was not the future I wanted for myself, for you and your family, or for future generations.
Our discussion today will be the evolution of Agenda 21 and ICLEI and the vision that these extreme environmentalists have for our future. We will discuss the impacts on the City of Longmont, Boulder County and how they have become interwoven in our State and Federal Government. We will also discuss actions to stop this erosion of our property rights, our freedoms and our liberties.
The UN was founded in 1945 with a lofty goal of "developing friendly relations among nations". Along the way they began to be a forum for the implementation for sustainable development. The problem really took root in 1992, when 172 countries gathered for the Earth Summit in Rio, which left us with the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, both of which adopted Agenda 21, which is a sustainable plan for the 21st century.
The drafters of Agenda 21 recognized the importance of local governments and their impact on social and environmental infrastructures and their unique ability to educate their citizens and promote sustainable development. To this end, ICLEI was established in 1990 to monitor the progress of the Earth Summit and to help build international policy at the local levels. ICLEI has been in the United States since 1995, you can look on their website to determine how active they are across the country, but at the current time they say they have over 1200 municipalities as members. This is a number that changes frequently and not all areas that are impacted by ICLEI are on the list, for example, according to Longmont we are not members, however, Boulder County is.
So how do ICLEI and Agenda 21 view sustainability?
Let's talk about the substance of what these organizations mean to all of us. ICLEI gets a foot hold in our communities when, for a membership fee, they "help" our planners by providing tools, software, education and other resources, to assist them in creating a sustainably plan.
The sustainability plans promoted by ICLEI will control water, waste management, land use, transportation, health and education, building codes, air quality, in other words they want to be involved in every aspect of our lives. ICLEI's agenda will require social conscience and a concern for the collective, by which they promote redistribution of resources and social equity. If you think you haven't been impacted by ICLEI, if you live in Longmont, the electric rate increase of 7.5 percent per year for the next three years is a direct result of renewable energy standards; RES is a goal of ICLEI.
ICLEI foresees a future where we will live, work and play in one area. They would like us condensed and their plans would move us to urban areas. Their plans support high density housing, carless communities, carbon free zones, they see a future where we will all bike, walk, drive an electric car, or take a train. All these things would be fine if we chose to do them, however, they will be regulated and mandated.
They work to take us from our cars to public transport, make us carbon free, and encourage renewable energy, electric vehicles, and smart grids. For those of you who don't know, with smart grids the electric company has the ability to shut off your appliances or a/c if they see a spike in electric usage that isn't in their set parameters. I recently read an article that said in the future we would all have to adjust our lives by when we cook dinner, or do the laundry, all according to the parameters set for electrical usage. Smart meters are also vulnerable to hacking of your personal information. They are also expensive and Longmont is in the midst of preparing for a smart grid pilot project.
The way ICLEI achieves their goals is by creating partnerships between government and business and creating non-elected boards that will encourage and support these ideas and plans.
My research indicates that much of sustainable development comes from the county commissioners. They push it to the Consortium of Cities. It is all the cities in Boulder County, minus Ward, last I checked, but including Broomfield. In Longmont, pending issues are taken up by various advisory boards. These boards do just what they say, they advise city council. It is my opinion that many of the issues are sanitized before they ever reach council and that council is inadvertently passing undesirable mandates. For example, Kay Fissinger is vice-chair of the Environmental Board; currently they are looking at green building standards and a ban of plastic bags.
At this point you make think I am exaggerating, I wish I were.
Let me share with you something from J. Gary Lawrence, in a paper he prepared in advance of the 3rd Earth Summit in 2002. "Participating in a UN advocated planning process would very likely bring out many of the conspiracy-fixated groups and individuals in our society such as the National Rifle Association, citizen militias and some members of Congress. This segment of our society who fear 'one-world government' and a UN invasion of the United States through which our individual freedoms would be stripped away would work to defeat any elected official who joined 'the conspiracy' by undertaking LA 21. So we call our processes something else, such as comprehensive planning, growth management, or smart growth."
Then there is the statement from Harvard, in a report on climate change they said "the findings of this study suggest that the most effective way to get municipal governments to take action on global climate change is to not talk about global climate change. If the objective is to involve cities in global efforts to control GHG emissions, the best strategy may be to "Think Locally, Act Locally." It seems they do not want to be transparent in their goals at all, they would prefer to work without us knowing their true intentions.
There are some terms that you may begin to hear as you pay attention to what is happening. They are terms that originate with ICLEI and their supporters.
Some of the terms are POD, or pedestrian oriented development, TOD, transportation oriented development, SOD, sustainability oriented developments, COD, creative oriented developments, and visioning, or DOD, which is debate and decide oriented development. The one that really bugs me is GOD, in my estimation it subverts the worship of a higher power to try to get us to worship the earth, it stands for green oriented development.
Not the last and not the least of the issues with ICLEI is their promotion of Triple Bottom Line. This is a concept that incorporates equity, economic and environmental aspects of any development program, known as the three E's. Equity and environmental components are assessed qualitatively, in other words the why and the how. I personally consider this to be very subjective.
Last year in Spokane, Washington, there was an initiative put on the ballot that would have created rights for nature, in particular a river. It was voted down, but the effort was there. There has been an invasive ICLEI movement in Spokane, but there is also a citizens group that is working hard to regain control of their town and restore the constitution.
North Little Rock has been fighting its own version of cap and trade, and the power department is pushing smart grids and smart meters in order to control power load.
One of the things to be aware of is that many of the goals for sustainable development are accomplished through rezoning, which allows them to impact development with out the hassle of imminent domain. In Boulder County this is through open space and conservation easements.
In other words, Agenda 21 and ICLEI are in many communities, and this directs our discussion to Boulder County and the City of Longmont. In many ways the two are intricately connected and the city is impacted by many of the county decisions.
I met with Mr. Shaw, our Longmont sustainability coordinator and according to him we are not a member of ICLEI. I had concerns over this as I have slides where he has used ICLEI as his reference point and has used their methodology in his Carbon Plan model. Mr. Shaw has said there was approval from the council to join, but it was decided not to pursue membership in ICLEI. An interesting side note to this is that Mr. Shaw worked with Mark Ruzzin, the former mayor of Boulder as his ICLEI contact when Mr. Ruzzin was the ICLEI Western States Coordinator, he then left that position and is now employed as a policy analyst for the Boulder County Commissioners office.
When I tried to get specifics from the city on the amount of money we spend to promote sustainable development and the ICLEI agenda, I met with a rather solid pushback and was told I would need to complete an open records request… and it was going to be very expensive, which was rather ridiculous as it should have been contained in a line items in the budget. The questions I asked were really basic and it should have been an easy task to provide them. This is yet another reason to demand that our council put our city check book online. We need to know how they are spending our funds.
The city is under contract with two environmental companies that provide services to the City. One, R.W. Beck has software that is designed to help the city incorporate triple bottom line evaluation. They are also the same company that provides service to Fort Collins for their ICLEI initiatives. Our contract with them is $31,400 for phase 1 and an undetermined amount for phase two which is to be paid out of the city fund form the Energy Conservation Block.
The city applied for a grant from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block program. This is a new grant program offered by the Obama administration and is funded by the Recovery Act of 2009 for the reduction of fossil fuels and other energy programs, the total grant is grant is 3.2 billion and Longmont is allocated for 785,100.
The other environmental company, Symbiotic Engineering is out of Boulder and provides real time carbon footprint information and a database for evaluation of our utility usage. This provides the city a method to target specific business or homes that are using excess power. Our fees to them were $13,300 for initial setup, and a quarterly fee of $2,800.
We also have a contract with eco-cycle; we pay them 159,620 for tracking volunteer hours, an education and outreach program and what ever else they do for the city. They are very involved in Zero Waste promotion which we will talk about later.
One of the items covered by this block grant is the installation of LED stoplights. Something you may not know is that in snowstorms the new LED lights do not generate enough heat to melt the snow. The city is now considering a remote heating system that will kick on to melt the snow. Word to the wise, look both ways before crossing an intersection in a blizzard!
We have several rebate programs in Longmont, it is difficult to locate where the funds come from, some documents indicate they come from local funds, others indicate they are Federal funds, what ever they are, they are tax dollars.
The Neighborhood Efficiency Sweeps Program is a neighborhood outreach program. In 2009, the city contacted "400 homes and gained access to 183. In total, 2,655 compact fluorescent light bulbs and 88 low-flow shower heads were installed; 44 clothes-drying racks were given away; and 220 information kits were distributed. The information kits are printed in both Spanish and English. So your tax dollars are at work in this program too.
Mr. Shaw and I discussed triple bottom line, or the three E's. if a corporation chooses to use triple bottom line stockholders may sell their stock if they are not happy with the outcomes, however, when city government uses triple bottom line, it becomes a problem, whose ideology is going to prevail?
I asked him to explain to me how he could justify an environmental or social aspect using TBL. He asked if I would agree that we have a childhood obesity program in Longmont. If so, then in evaluating the placement of bike trials, the trails need to be placed close to children's homes and their schools in order to motivate them to ride their bikes to and from school, that placement of the bike trails is a social benefit because if children are encouraged to ride their bikes they will lose weight. I don't know about you, but this sounds to me like social engineering and the city trying to accomplish what the parents should be doing.
The city staff has been working on a sustainability plan. They worked with a core group of businesses and individuals to determine the outcomes of this plan, known as the sustainability advisory board. Again, unelected people, perhaps with a different ideology than yours, designing your future. The plan targets 7 focus areas, energy, water, waste recovery, transportation, natural environment, economic vitality, and community and individual well being, and they do plan to use triple bottom line evaluation.
In addition to the ISP, or Integrated Sustainably Plan, the city is also working on something known as LiveWell. This is a program to ensure we have healthy lifestyle choices here in Longmont and it is being incorporated into our comprehensive land use plan. I don't see what business the city has in deciding how many fruits and vegetables we are going to be eating, or how many times a week we walk, but this is the goal
In late October the sustianablity plan was presented to city council for a vote to move the plan forward for a public hearing process. After it the vote, this is the response I received from Ron Shaw,
"As you are aware, we presented the draft ISP to City Council on October 19th and asked for direction on how to proceed with the draft. City Council endorsed and supported the concepts and methods presented in the ISP and directed staff to conduct a public involvement process and to present the findings of this process and a final draft of the ISP to City Council once
that is completed."
I spoke with him again last week and they are having meetings in the advisory boards to decide on the presentation for the public process and they have bids from a public relation firm that will enhance the plan for public consumption. They expect to take those results to the council sometime in March.
Did you know Boulder County is a "cool county" ? And no this is not cool as in hip, but cool as in anti-global warming as recognized by the Sierra Club, and their partner, ICLEI. Boulder County has recognized the Kyoto protocols and is working to reduce carbon emissions in excess of the Kyoto Protocols, let's remember the United States has not signed the Kyoto Protocols. The plan is a reduction of 80% below current levels by 2050, that is without any allowance for population growth too. The software for Cool Counties and Cool Cities is provided by ICLEI. The Sierra Club, ICLEI and the EPA are partners and the database is provided by the DOE. So, yes ICLEI is at the Federal level too.
Boulder County is a dues paying member of ICLEI. They have several programs I would encourage you to research and evaluate, however two are especially restrictive to our liberties and freedoms and are not friendly to free market enterprise. One is the Boulder County Sustainability Plan and the other is an aggressive Zero Waste program. As an aside, the City of Longmont includes Zero Waste in their documents for sustainable programs and the council recognized Zero Waste with a resolution in 2008. The Boulder County Sustainability Plan, in conjunction with the Consortium of Cities, has a plan that says
"Scientific evidence now incontrovertibly demonstrates that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHG)released into the atmosphere are currently impacting the Earth's climate and will continue to have profound and devastating effects. To address the local impacts and embrace the opportunities presented by this critical issue, the Boulder County Consortium of Cities convened the Energy Strategy Task Force. One of the chief aims of the Task Force is to provide a framework for local and regional action on energy sustainability."
The plan encourages the state to join the Western States Climate Initiative, (for the record this is nothing more than cap and trade)
And, a clean car incentive that charges users of less fuel-efficient vehicles a fee and applies the funds from this fee, as an incentive, to the purchasers of more fuel-efficient vehicles. The benefits of this approach are that it is a relatively efficient way of promoting the purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles; users of less fuel-efficient vehicles directly pay for the externalities that they inflict upon society; and it sends a potentially strong market signal to auto manufacturers.
Another is which promotes the same efficiency standards for cars as California. Clean Car Standard for Colorado The plan further says:
To support these strategies, resources will be necessary. We will explore strategies to attract the necessary resources to cost-effectively reach our GHG reduction objectives such as Energy Budgets and Rate Structures that Promote a use more pay more punitive structure, climate offset credits, and targeted sales tax st rategies, such as vehicle registration or carbon taxes.
Again this is something you can verify for yourself online and I have provided a link for you to do so in the handout.
Boulder County is the recipient of 25 million dollars from the Recovery Act, more of our tax dollars, and it is designated for the Ramp up program which according to Energy Secretary Chu will be used to " Overcome the barriers to making energy efficiency easy and accessible to all…"
Well, let's talk a little trash now! Boulder County is promoting a Zero Waste program. Once again, it sounds wonderful doesn't it, a zero waste world, but the realities of the program are very restrictive and destructive to small businesses. Zero Waste is a program that has been in place for a few years and the goal is to have what they call darn near zero waste by 2025.
The way they hope to accomplish this is by reduce, recycle repurpose and reuse. They plan to ban all yard waste, food waste, any recyclables, and pet waste from the trash stream. In New Jersey there are places where you are required to flush pet waste. If you happen to believe that one county can't make that much of a difference, think about how phosphates have been removed from dish washing detergent, and it all started in Spokane, Washington and spread from there. You do notice your dishes aren't sparking clean? And it isn't your dishwasher!
The impact of Zero Waste was felt at the fair this year, one of the attendees went to several vendors trying to purchase lemonade before she found one that had county approved cups. People will not get lids for their cups because lids are plastic and doesn't fit the zero waste model.
My dog club has events at Boulder County fairgrounds. We just spent nearly $400 hundred dollars on compostable dinner ware; these items will melt if stored in our trailer due to the heat. Now we have to run and back and forth between where they are stored and our trailer each time we have an event. This is one of the many unforeseen consequences of so many government mandates.
Some of the plan requires making retailers responsible for the life cycle of the products by requiring them to dispose of them, and also requires eco-friendly packaging of retail products. One of my friends, a business owner has said this may very well put her out of business. Think about it, if a retailer is buying products from another state where eco-friendly packaging is not mandated, it will force the local retailers to repackage before selling.
One aspect of the program is that if compliance isn't what the county wants, the county plans to lobby the state to restrict all of these items state wide. Another issue is education, in Boulder County schools they plan to inform children and have them participate in Zero Waste. We already don't educate our children enough to make them competitive, how dare we take more time from their math and science studies!
Boulder County already works to market carbon offsets; we basically are implementing our own cap and trade in the county.
Just a few things about Colorado and the Federal government. ICLEI is firmly entrenched in both. Colorado has a sustainably plan, I have provided you a link, it is actually very similar to Boulder's and once again discuses carbon emissions trading, the Western Climate Initiative and it says that if the federal government fails in their efforts for cap and trade, Colorado will join the Western Climate Initiative.
There is also a plan from Denver Council of Regional Governments, or DRCOG. It is called MetroVision and limits growth to 3%, discusses urban infill, and pushes for urban wildlife corridors around cities. This will require more land to be converted to open space with more tax payer dollars.
I would like you to note that Governor Hickenloopers was a cool mayor. Our environmental goals will be more restrictive and invasive than those enacted by Governor Ritter.
So What can we do?
Michael Shaw is a founder and director of Freedom 21 Santa Cruz, is in Santa Cruz County, California, he is educating people about sustainability in his area and hosts a radio program. There are groups in Seattle, WA and a very effective group in Arkansas. There is a group called freedomadvocates.org that has a lot of information.
Nancy Rumsfeld has Liberty Watch which is a group that follows and analyzes state legislation for a newletter. There are a group of us that are on an anti-iclei mailing list, ranging from Fort Collins to Pueblo, that interact and exchange ideas and information.
We need to follow energy legislation at all levels, wind and solar are subsidized at ridiculous levels with our tax dollars, attend council meetings, join advisory boards, go to commissioners hearing, and educate your friends and neighbors. We must let our elected officials know we are opposed to further mandates, regulations, and increased utility bills, all in the name of sustainable development.
Get involved, we need conservative voices as part of the dialogue, do not allow the folks from ICLEI and the many environmentalists to determine our future. We can protect our environment while still enjoying the protection of the Constitution; we just need to have a seat at the table.
Handout at the LRW Meeting: