|Mississippi River in Iowa: CWI calls
for lockup of two million miles of private land lying within river
While the media and the American people have been
focusing their attention on the seedy saga of our impeachable President, that same
President has continued with his systematic destruction of our liberties, including
implementation of Agenda 21 -- the 40-chapter manifesto to reorganize the world
into an eco-socialist gulag controlled by the United Nations and the global elite. Now
that the first of the American Heritage Rivers have been designated (see sidebar on page
18), Mr. Clinton is coming out with the granddaddy of all land-use control mechanisms: the
Clean Water Initiative.
The potential impact of the Clean Water Initiative (CWI)
is breathtaking. It stipulates, among other things:
|The creation or restoration of nearly one million acres of
|A whopping two million miles of river protection corridors
taken almost entirely from private lands.|
|Closure of over 20,000 miles of roads on federal lands that
are essential to commercial and recreation activities.|
|Federal land-use authority over nearly one-half of all
watersheds in America.|
All this is to be fully implemented between the years 2002
Private Lands Lockup
First announced by Vice President Al Gore in November
1997, the CWI has been formalized into the Clean Water Action Plan, an umbrella
for a host of very specific plans to control how and by whom water is used throughout the
United States. Predictably, the President has not sought authority from Congress for this
action, but claims that authority already exists in the 1972 Clean Water Act, which calls
for "fishable and swimmable" waters for all Americans.
Never mind that taxpayers have already spent tens of
billions of dollars on cleaning up our water over the past 25 years. That effort,
according to the Action Plan, was only focused on "point source"
pollution, such as community and city sewage discharge, pollution from large manufacturing
facilities, and other concentrated sources. The tough job, contends the Action Plan, still
remains to be done: controlling non-point source pollution coming from farming, forestry,
urban sprawl, and other human activities.
To judge from the Action Plan, the
waters of the U.S. are still in deplorable condition. The Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) estimates that after 25 years of very expensive cleanup efforts, only "sixteen
percent of the watersheds in the continental United States have good water quality."
But not to worry. The Clean Water Action Plan provides a "blueprint for
restoring and protecting the nations precious water resources."
The magnitude of the CWI is stunning. In addition to
calling for a host of yet undefined regulations, the Action Plan calls for the
creation of two million miles of river and stream corridor buffers and the restoration of
975,000 net acres of wetlands by 2002 and 2005, respectively. The intent is to filter
sediments and other pollutants from agricultural and urban runoff before they enter
streams and rivers.
According to the Action Plan, only about 25,000
miles of corridors will lie within federal lands, meaning that nearly all of the two
million miles of corridors will be on private lands. What the Action Plan conveniently
does not tell its readers is that rivers on federal lands already account for about one
million of the 3.5 million miles of streams and rivers in the 50 states. So a staggering
80 percent of all private land along America's streams and rivers will likely have stream
and river corridors by the year 2002 if CWI goals are met.
But that is just part of this eye-popping plan. Stream and
river corridors "range in size from a few feet on either side of a small stream to
several miles wide on large river systems." According to the 600-page draft Stream
Corridor Restoration, a supporting USDA manual to the CWI's Action Plan, each
"corridor should extend across the stream, its banks, the floodplain, and the valley
slopes. It should also include a portion of upland for the entire stream length to
maintain functional integrity." Therefore, "to the extent feasible, the
restoration process should include blockage of artificial drainage systems, removal or
setback of artificial levees, and restoration of natural patterns of floodplain
topography.... Establishment of inappropriate and narrow corridors can have a net
detrimental influence at local and regional scales."
While the Stream Corridor Restoration manual
recognizes that legal or social considerations may cause gaps and other limitations to the
implementation of this plan, the clear intent is to minimize these impacts--even for urban
stream and river corridors. Although nationally, "urban stream buffers range from 20
to 200 feet in width from each side of the stream...a minimum base width of at least 100
feet is recommended to provide adequate stream protection," up to "the full
extent of the 100-yr flood plain [and] all undevelopable steep slopes."
The intent of the CWI's Action Plan iseither to
purchase the land or, more desirably, sign "conservation easements" (leases)
using existing programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Reserve
Enhancement Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program,
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and the Forest Legacy Program.
Although there is the appearance that the federal government will pay private
landowners for their losses, the numbers just dont add up. Using a bare-bones minimum of
100 feet on both sides of a stream or river, this program would require the withdrawal
from human use of 48 million acres.
Most of this effort will buffer agricultural lands often
worth over $10,000 an acre. Assuming the government could somehow convince farmers to
relinquish jurisdiction of critical water to the federal government by leasing the land as
conservation easements for $50 per acre per year, the total cost to the federal
government would be nearly $2.5 billion dollars per year--over $600 million in 1999 alone.
This figure does not even include the cost of the wetland restoration efforts. Yet
President Clinton has only requested about $120 million for corridor restoration work by
the USDA in 1999. Either the President is not serious about his own plan, or he plans to
use other methods to secure the land for these corridors. Given the federal government's
past record, one can only assume that it will use the tried and true way of regulatory
Links to Agenda 21
The CWI's blueprint for integrated watershed management
and land-use controlcomes right out of the UN's Agenda 2]. Signed by President
Bush in 1992 during the UN's "Earth Summit" in Brazil, Agenda 21 lays
out a massive blueprint for global eco-government. Agenda 21 represents what is
known as "soft law," which establishes goals without any enforcement ability.
Enforcement is intended to come via a variety of treaties, foremost among them being the
Convention on Biological Diversity. Thankfully, the treaty was derailed in the U.S. Senate
in September 1994, after Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) provided damning evidence
from the UN Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA) that the treaty would turn up to one-half
of America back to wilderness.
The GBA outlines a plan by which vast tracts of land would
be set aside as wilderness reserves, interconnected by wilderness corridors that generally
follow streams and rivers. Not surprisingly, the CWI provides the template for that
process. By withdrawing 5,000 miles of roads from federal lands a year through 2002 (as
outlined by the CWI's Action Plan), vast tracts of de facto wilderness would be
created within the 40 percent of America that is classified as federal land. Add to this
the CWI's river corridor plan, and you have a giant step toward implementing the
Convention on Biological Diversity without Senate ratification.
A key element of the Action Plan is a
"cooperative approach to restoring and protecting water quality in which state,
federal, tribal, and local governments work with stakeholders and interested citizens to
(1) identify watersheds not meeting clean water and other natural resource goals, and (2)
work cooperatively to focus resources and implement effective strategies to solve these
While the Action Plan gives the appearance of
maintaining local control, it is the federal agencies that control the planning process by
"coordinating the implementation of national programs" within watersheds. The
feds determine which watersheds must be restored or protected through the use of
"holistic" and "integrated" techniques such as the EPA's unverifiable
"Index of Watershed Indicators." The feds direct the range of possible solutions
by "directing program authorities, technical assistance, data, and enforcement
resources to help states, tribes, and local communities design and implement their
drinking water source water assessment and protection and restoration efforts."
Such doublespeak allows the state and local governments to
believe they are collaboratively making the decisions, when in fact the problems and
allowable range of solutions are defined by federal agents --all according to Agenda
Cooking the Books
The 1,000 watersheds which the EPA says require
restoration and protection are determined by using the EPA's "Index of Watershed
Indicators." As it turns out, the index is comprised of 15 totally disparate
measurements of watershed condition, such as "contaminated sediments," presence
or absence of "four toxic pollutants," "wetland loss index,"
"urban runoff potential," etc. "For each condition indicator," notes
the EPA, "values were selected which, in the EPA's professional judgment, represent
an appropriate basis to describe the aquatic resources within the watershed as having good
quality, fewer problems, or more problems. Similarly, for each vulnerability indicator,
the Agency selected values that we believe are appropriate to differentiate 'lower' from
In other words, like mixing apples and oranges, the
"Index of Watershed Indicators" is totally subjective and unverifiable. Yet, it
is this index that forms the basis for the Clinton Administration's claims that nearly
one-half of America's watersheds require the restoration and protection efforts stipulated
in the Action Plan.
Not only did the EPA use a subjective method to arrive at
its index, but it also cooked the books, apparently in an effort to skew the results to
make the numbers appear even worse. While it is true that only 16 percent of the
watersheds were determined to have good water quality (using this subjective approach),
another 27 percent of the watersheds lacked sufficient data to make any Index assessment.
A quick glance at the EPAs map of "Watershed
Indicator Indices" reveals that most of these watersheds are found in the Western
United States, where there is a very high probability that the water quality is good
because of the very low population density. It is likely that the data does not exist for
these watersheds because they were in such good health that the scientists placed them low
on the assessment priority list. If these watersheds were included in the good water
quality category, the total of good watersheds would jump from 16 percent to over 40
percent--dramatically changing the perception of Americas water quality problem.
Playing fast and loose with data has become the hallmark
of EPA Secretary Carol Browner. Dr. Bonner Cohen, in The People v. Carol Browner. EPA
on Trial, details a litany of scientific corruption designed to advance a radical
environmental agenda. Under the leadership of Browner, the abuse of power by the EPA has
become blatant. Bonner cites evidence that the EPA is creating and submitting backdated
documents for filing with federal courts, requesting career scientists to lobby Congress
in violation of federal law, and severely intimidating EPA employees to keep them from
Publicity generated by Cohen's work led 19 EPA officials
to sign a letter to the Washington Times dated June 8, 1998 protesting the
"egregious misconduct" at the EPA that has created a "reprehensible"
situation under the tenure of Carol Browner. Claiming to be "but a few of the EPA
scientists, managers and affiliated persons protesting fraud and waste within our
agency," the officials painted an incredible picture of corruption within the EPA,
where "employees are harassed, even fired, for protesting illegal or irresponsible
behavior by managers who jeopardize the proper enforcement of the law.... At the EPA,
retaliation against whistle blowers occurs at every management level. At times, it
involves the highest levels of administration, including the offices of Regional
Administrators and the Office of Administrator Carol Browner. Because retaliation is
supported at the highest levels, EPA's Office of Inspector General, Office of General
Counsel, and the Office of the Administrator will engage in retaliation either singularly
On behalf of the National Wilderness Institute, which
published Cohens report, Landmark Legal Foundation has repeatedly petitioned the Attorney
General to investigate these allegations, only to be stonewalled. The General Accounting
Office, on the other hand, has launched an investigation into the charges at the request
of James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), chairman of the House Science Committee.
Meanwhile, junk science continues to be used to justify
the Clean Water Initiative, and other Administration programs continue to undermine our
Constitution and threaten every American.
S. COFFMAN, PHD
Dr. Coffman, an environmental consultant, is the
executive director of Sovereignty International and President of Environmental
Perspectives, Inc. He is author of the book Saviors of the Earth? which details
the goals and religion of environmental leadership.