Ripping into the Present Injustice, Hoping for the Future

THE VISIONARY TENTH ANNUAL NATIONAL PROPERTY RIGHTS CONFERENCE

Interrelated Issues from Environmentalism, to Eminent Domain, to Federal Greenways, to International Efforts Threatening U.S. Property Rights

The Property Rights Foundation of America’s Tenth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights on October 14 began with a surprise. Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D., the noted national and international policy analyst who just authored The Green Wave: Environmentalism and Its Consequences, gave the opening address after the originally billed speaker, John Taylor, was forced to withdraw because of serious family illness. Dr. Cohen’s words rolled across the audience at the Holiday Inn Turf in Albany, New York, with a wave of revelation about the history and agenda of modern-day environmentalism and set the stage for many of the other addresses at the conference.

The Power of Environmentalism

Bonner Cohen described the radical transformation that took place within conservation groups like the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club over the past 35 years to build today’s powerful environmental movement, which now receives $9.6 million each day in donations. “They are different in that they have the goal of imposing their viewpoint on the rest of us,” he said.

“How many times have we heard the term that we must not disturb the balance and destroy the ecosystem,” he said. “Ecosystem has become the metaphor for everything the environmentalists want. If you have an ecosystem that must be kept in balance then, you have prohibited all the things that might disturb that balance.” Whether it is regulation through endangered species law, heritage areas, rails to trails, or whatever, control is the purpose, he said. “But, ladies, and gentlemen, there is no such thing as an ecosystem…What you see today is not what you’re going to see tomorrow. Rivers change course.” On earth everything is in flux.

He described the catastrophic result of the first modern environmental success story, the prohibition of DDT. It was predicted that banning DDT would lead to the death of millions of people. “Malaria had almost disappeared in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of India,” he pointed out. “The Environmental Defense Fund was formed for the specific purpose of banning DDT,” he said. “It speaks millions about the environmental movement, that its first success had the direct result of the deaths of millions and millions of people.”

Rounding out his speech, Dr. Cohen briefly gave an overview of how the once small environmental organizations steadily build their wealth, tapping into foundations such as Pew Charitable Trust to support the very causes that would have “absolutely appalled their founders.” And, finally, the green groups are manipulating the corporations that sit at the pinnacle of the free enterprise system. “It’s a gigantic monster that we’re all facing,” he concluded.

Success in the West

Against the power of the machine of green government and environmental organizations to take total control of the reaches of western ranching, two prominent speakers described their principled victories. Karen Budd-Falen, an attorney in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is orchestrating a winning battle on behalf of Frank Robbins, who refuses to allow the Bureau of Reclamation’s harassment to wear down his love of liberty, and has stopped the Bureau from simply stealing a right-of-way across his property. Ms. Budd-Falen has successfully brought an action on behalf of the courageous man against the government officials, personally, and the Bureau, under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

“The crime is extortion, punishable both under Wyoming state law and the federal Hobbes Act,” she said, noting that it does not matter whether the official receives any personal gain from the extortion. The lawsuit, known as Robbins v. Wilkie, (or v. Bureau of Land Management), has won twice in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, where “the federal government argued that the individual does not have the right to exclude the federal government from your property,” she said.

James K. Chilton, Jr., a fifth generation Arizona rancher who founded the Chilton Ranch and Cattle Company with his father and brother, entranced the attendees with his old west humor and true-life stories of his pioneering family. He came to New York with his wife Sue to tell the story of how he used a defamation suit to challenge an organization that was using the courts to obstruct his ranching on supposed “environmental” grounds. “Yes, we won a lawsuit against the Center for Biologic Diversity. Every lawsuit comes from a deep anger, that you’ve been maligned and misrepresented,” he said.

“It all started with a minnow. This is a true wetback,” said the rancher, whose 85,000-acre ranch is on the border with Mexico. “The government considered it a messiah. The government considered it an endangered species…It wasn’t endangered.”

“The Forest Service decided to use NEPA on the renewal of our grazing permit,” he said. “For 100 years, we have the preference right to renew my grazing permit.” When Mr. Chilton asked why, they said it was because of the Center for Biological Diversity. The Forest Service decided to study the marsh where the minnows were found, although it was dry two months of the year. “The Center for Biological Diversity asked for an injunction for the removal of my cattle while this was going on,” said Mr. Chilton. “Fortunately, the judge didn’t agree.”

The lawsuits continued. Mr. Chilton reflected, “Why am I subject to these lawsuits and why am I subject to biological assessments for some species that was not on my allotment?” But he won an important victory. The court ruled, “They can’t take jurisdiction unless they prove the species is there…Potential habitat can’t be the basis of jurisdiction.”

The Center for Biological Diversity put out a newsletter with 21 photos that they said showed the conditions on the Chilton Ranch, which was published in the local newspaper. “I sued for defamation of character, and went to county court and had a jury trial. He showed that the photos were either not on his property, or at a place where a May Day celebration had just been held and hundreds of cars had been parked, or at a dry wash. Even though Mr. Chilton was deemed to be a “public figure,” and therefore had to prove malice, he succeeded. “They grossly misrepresented a lie,” he said, before closing his speech with the words, “I have great optimism for the future.”

Focus on Eminent Domain

James E. Morgan, attorney, a familiar friend of property rights from nearby Delmar, New York, introduced the eminent domain panel with a short discussion about “The Crisis in Eminent Domain.” First he pointed out, “The Kelo case went substantially beyond what can be taken to eliminate blight for economic development and is now being taken by municipalities to use eminent domain for any purpose.” Then he took a turn.

“Eminent domain is also something that government fears,” he said. “Eminent domain did provide for average citizens to challenge the taking of their property. What’s occurred in this state and, I’m sure, in many other places, is that the government has been abusing its authority because they’re taking property for administrative purposes without compensation.”

“In New York, the Long Island Pine Barrens Commission has succeeded in taking 50,000 acres without just compensation,” he said. “They did a slight of hand, and called it TDRs, or transferable development rights. They defined the price to pay as $7,000 to $9,000 per acre. But, on Long Island, the land is going for between $85,000 and $150,000 per acre.”

“This kind of Taking is by administrative fiat, by zoning, by master plan,” he said

“You should get control of your zoning, or you’ll get ‘smart zoning,’” he warned. “This is being pushed by the New York State Department of State. You should control this, but you have to be active.” He left the audience with the thought of protecting the rights recognized over centuries of struggle, pointing out the relevance of the Magna Carta, signed in 1215. “This is the first written protection of private property rights in the world.”

Eminent Domain in the New York State Legislature

Jim Malatras, Legislative Director to Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, returned again to look at the status of eminent domain reform in the New York State Legislature. The Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions Committee, chaired by Mr. Brodsky, has been taking the lead to correct the unfairness of the state’s eminent domain law. Mr. Malatras has written Assemblyman Brodsky’s comprehensive Eminent Domain Reform Act of 2005, the Eminent Domain Ombudsman Act, and the 2004 eminent domain notification law.

“At our eminent domain hearings across the state, folks like Carol and Mindy Fullilove have passionately and successfully testified about moving forward with real reform,” he said, upon opening his address. (Dr. Mindy Fullilove addressed PRFA’s 2004 national conference on private property rights.)

Mr. Malatras spoke of three bills that have gained significant momentum. “The first legislative proposal was brought from this conference two years ago when Craig Call spoke to us,” he said. “This bill was the Eminent Domain Ombudsman.” The bill has been introduced in both houses, he said.

The second bill is procedural reform, he said. “The final piece of legislative reform is the Legislative Commission for Eminent Domain Reform. Assemblyman Brodsky and Senator Alesi came very close to getting this bill passed,” he pointed out.

“The tide is growing in New York, as in the U.S.,” he said. “All of our legislative package has majority support.” He reported our, “The New York State Bar Association, while we hardly agree in all of it, has agreed with four of our Legislative proposals.”

“You may think this is going slowly. But recall, legislation for notification took two years and had to overcome a governor’s veto,” he observed. “The Second Circuit Court of Appeals called our legislative reform significant.”

“We will continue to fight the good fight,” he promised.

Eminent Domain—The Past, Present, and Hoped-for Future

Gideon Kanner, Professor Emeritus of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles quietly blasted away on the subject of his speech, “Eminent Domain: Where We Are, Where We’ve Been, and Where We Should Be Going.” He began, “This is a singular honor for me. I’ve been speaking all over, but never invited to speak in New York. New York is not the basement, it is the subbasement of eminent domain law.”

Prof. Kanner’s eminent domain perspective was a major feature of the conference. He referred back to Schroeder v. City of New York forty years ago, which settled the requirement for notice. The property owner still had to litigate this again in the recent Brody case. Calling to mind the classic Lewis Orgel 1954 two-volume on valuation for eminent domain, the retired professor continued, “He characterized eminent domain as the ‘dark corner of the law.’ It is always dark, but particularly in New York.”

“There is no ‘public use’ specification in eminent domain, and the ‘just compensation’ is exceedingly unjust,” he said, distilling the dark side of eminent domain into a few words.

“I actually had the California Supreme Court say that to me, ‘those are just panoramic citations’,” he said, continuing that “patents, copyright,…any species of property is subject to being taken.”

“Eminent domain is part of the sovereignty of government, including the power to wage war…U.S. court only limits those powers to the extent that they be for a public purpose and that compensation by given.”

He traced the weakening of the “public purpose” clause in the Fifth Amendment. “It began like ‘a cloud on the horizon no bigger than a man’s hand’,” he said. In the eighteenth century the power of eminent domain went to the states, he continued. Eminent domain was for roads, hospitals, and the like. Then came the field of railroads, which had a profound effect. But this was public use. In the U.S., railroads were privately owned. There was always confusion, as to the character of the use, or of the taker.

In the U.S., the power rests in the legislator. It is inherent in the executive branch, but the legislature must release it, he said. For instance, in California, the legislature decided that cemetery property cannot be taken for highways. The judicial makes sure that any statutes are complied with.

“In New York, it’s a mess,” he said. “You don’t have a right to a jury trial…In New York, if you are in a county that has any significant amount of eminent domain business, one judge is designated as the eminent domain judge.”

“In eminent domain, you’ve never seen a bigger bunch of pussy cats,” he said. “In New York City, you could count the eminent domain law firms on one hand.”

“New York is a sewer for eminent domain,” he said, illustrating the point with the condemnation for the New York Stock Exchange. Speaking of using eminent domain for redevelopment in New York, he said, “There are entire neighborhoods in New York City that are abandoned. They look like Hamburg after the war. Why don’t they redevelop them?”

“It’s the Willie Sutton principle. That’s where the money is,” he said. “The cost to New York City for condemnation for the Stock Exchange was $100 million, and they had to abandon it.”

He described the unfolding thinking related to the just compensation over the years, and the allegations that greedy landowners would bankrupt the government and stop freeways from being built. The worst began in the New Deal, he said. “In my opinion, they went out of their way to denigrate private property rights.”

Prof. Kanner delivered an almost uncanny history of the diffusion of the principle of public use in eminent domain law, showing how private eminent domain gained validity through the Utah case of Clark v. Nash at the turn of the twentieth century. The unpredictable U.S. Supreme Court Justice Peckham held that it was a public purpose to take a strip of Clark’s land to enlarge Nash’s irrigation ditch. Prof. Kanner took the listeners down through time to the Kelo ruling last year. “It ignited a furor. I’ve never seen anything like it… In Roe v. Wade, there are two constituencies…In Kelo there are no two constituencies. Eighty to ninety percent are against.”

“Legislatures are accustomed to seeing these tides dissipate,” he said, announcing that he is a pessimist. “Is there hope in the Legislature? Certainly, the New York courts are not any hope.”

Keynote Address - Private Property Rights: Freedom in the Balance

During the luncheon, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund regaled the conference attendees with his perspective on the swings in protection of individual freedom in the United States during recent decades. He spoke on “Private Property Rights—Freedom in the Balance.” As a columnist for business, he did not see business necessarily as an ally of private property rights. “Business will often use the hangman and be the hangman,” he began.

“The vast majority of the business community money is going out against the eminent domain initiative,” he said, observing that in the Congress preconceived party lines are not a good measure of the divide on the eminent domain issue, with the NAACP and many liberals standing for eminent domain reform,

“When I saw the brush fire over Kelo, I thought, it feels like the Boston Massacre,” he said. “The Colonists realized that the British soldiers are not out there to protect them, but to control them.”

“I think we have to emphasize the ebb and flow of politics,” he said. It is like a sine curve, he observed, drawing a oscillating pattern like the trigonometric function in the air.

“Alger Hiss wrote that he abandoned Communism for Christianity,” he noted. But history brings change either way. “As soon as Reagan was back in California, Bush forgot what he stood for.”

“Politics is not a straight line. Put not your emphasis on the cycles of the moment,” he declared. “The Wall Street Journal is radical, as radical as the Founding Fathers and Christianity.

“Ideas properly understood will never disappoint,” he said. “Property, the ability to hand down what you have produced to your children, are enduring values.”

The Conflict between Wildlife and People

Nathaniel R. Dickinson, who is retired as New York State’s Big Game Unit Leader and continues as a wildlife biologist and author, reflected on environmentalism today and the Endangered Species Act. He recalled, “Earth Day led to greater interest in species that weren’t just hunted.” The environmental organizations grew in power. “They all jumped in together — Earth First radicals and Audubon, animal rights — all talked the party line.”

“The environmental organizations play on the emotions of gullible people. They are useful idiots,” he said. “Concern for the environment is out in the wings.”

“The environmental organizations are getting more and more infiltrated into government programs,” he pointed out. “One was the Natural Heritage Program [of The Nature Conservancy]. It was supposed to be for two years. It’s still there. This is illegal. They became permanent civil servants.”

“They created a monster,” he said, then gave an example. “One of them, the Endangered Species Act, is an unscientific piece of junk. Any species in the U.S.,—you can find a place where it’s rare.”

“They say wetlands are important, because they’re good for flood control,” he said, but pointed out an inconsistency. “Wetlands are shallow water bodies. Rain comes and they fill up and overflow…It’s so easy to blow these people out of the water.”

He reminisced on his years as the State’s big game wildlife manager. “I took up the big game management job. I read the law, and learned that they weren’t reading and following the law. All sorts of management problems existed, even human fatalities…I made all sorts of modifications. They must have been worthwhile, because I had a lot of job offers…Then I was relieved, offered the job of deer consultant.”

He related how later he met with the director, showed him the browse damage and confronted him. “He said, ‘I should have stood up against the environmentalists.’”

“In my old age I have time to reminisce,” Nate Dickinson said. He recalled his time football coaching in Vermont, and the teamwork and respect that he instilled. It was parallel to what we are doing today, “our efforts to counter some of the control over people’s lives that is caused by the environmental movement.”

“I hate to be whipped by a bunch of wimps who are short on moral standards and don’t play by the rules,” he summed up. He urged that we should communicate far more.

Property Rights in Congress

Jason Knox opened his talk humbly, “I come with open hands and a slightly bowed head.” The staffer with the Committee on Resources of the U.S. House of Representatives, added, “I am with you,” as he began an update on Property Rights in the Congress.

He discussed the two most prominent property rights-related bills in the Congress, H.R. 4128/S. 3873 to reform the eminent domain law, which has passed the House and which would withhold federal funds from economic development projects that failed to meet the bill’s standards blight where eminent domain would take the property to transfer it to private parties, and HR 4772, which would stop federal courts from applying res judicada [sorry, you’ve been to court on this already] if a petitioner fails in state court, as well as clarify the definition of “arbitrary and capricious.”

Mr. Knox said that to describe the mindset, he recalled the statement of Rep. Nadler, the ranking member, “If the government acts to protect endangered species, curb sprawl, enact clean air and water regulations, the property owner should not be compensated.”

The debate about allowing property rights litigants to get into federal court allowed for an illuminating statement, he said. One Senator said that we can not allow rich property owners taking up court time, but later he argued that a detainee captured on the field of combat should have full rights to a court hearing.

Mr. Knox said that he’d like to encourage everyone, “The property rights movement doesn’t turn on a single election; we didn’t get to where we are overnight. The starting point was in the 1930s for where we are now.”

“We need to reform the Federal Compensation Act,” Mr. Knox said. “This is almost never discussed. Property owners not given their due process rights. We need to reform the Commission on the Everglades, the Cape Cod National Seashore...” The National Park Service, Corps of Engineers have intimidated property owners. “The New Deal set the policy that they had to get citizens out as soon as possible,” he said. “The antiquated system remains where property owners are run through.” He declared that, instead, “The Constitution dictates that they should be afforded a jury trial.”

“There is hope,” he said. “There are a great many people up there that hold my views. We’re like an underground.”

Invasive Species

Fred V. Grau, Jr., President of Grasslyn, Inc., a family-owned seed-producing business in State College, Pennsylvania, addressed the threat of invasive species legislation, calling it regulation by fraud. “Invasive Species regulation is the Nirvana of eco-fascism,” he said.

“A lot is in a definition,” he said, reading one such definition: “Any organism not related to an ecosystem that could cause harm to the environment.” This means that in any area of the country, any organism that was not there before 1492 would be defined as an invasive species, he warned.

He outlined the cornerstone “best science” by David Pimental from Cornell University, on which the supposed economic impact of $138 billion from invasive species is based, for instance, on multiplying the number of domestic and feral cats by the estimated average number of birds killed per cat per year (30) by the value per bird of $800.00.

Invasive species are said to reduce species diversity, he said, but, ironically, London, England, excels in species diversity.

Perhaps one of the most telling fallacies he cited was the widely alleged negative impact of the “invasive” purple loosestrife. It has been in the United States since the 1800s, he said, and contrary to allegations that it does not harbor wildlife, at least 40 species of birds nest there.

“If this doesn’t get stopped, it can have more impact on your property than any other law, including the Endangered Species Act and eminent domain,” Mr. Grau said. “California has a bill listing domestic livestock as invasive species.”

“The synonym is ‘biological pollution’,” he said, pointing to many interrelated property rights issues, such as wetlands and conservation easements, and warning about the new ‘precautionary principle,’ where “you’d have to prove it doesn’t cause harm to transport across state and U.S. lines.” He also warned about “the tub of federal money” going to The Nature Conservancy to advance this cause.

The Endangered Species Act

Robert J. Smith, Adjunct Environmental Scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and President of the Center for Private Conservation, asked the question, “Can the Endangered Species Act be reformed?”

“Apparently, no,” he answered. “Rep. Pombo tried, and got a very good bill out of the House…When they came in 1994, they said they’d cut taxes and protect property rights. They’ve all vanished. The same names are there.”

In 1969, Pres. Nixon signed NEPA, Mr. Smith said. “It created an obscure agency, the Council on Environmental Quality, whose senior staff was Bill O’Reilly. One of the things they tried to do was achieve land use control in America. They wrote the book, The Takings Issue: An Analysis of the Constitutional Limits of Land Use Control. They said that we can’t do all we want to do, by paying for it…‘Property rights are a quaint anachronism that no modern nation can afford,’ they wrote…‘A simple loss of value should not be compensatible…We must start a vast flood of regulatory takings across the nation so that nobody will think twice about it.’”

“That has been followed successfully with all the environmental legislation that came out since the 1970s and particularly that related to land and habitat,” he said. “Congressmen still talk about the ‘noble intent’ of the Endangered Species Act. There was no noble intent about it.”

In their book Noahs Choice, Plummer and Mann described interviews with staff, Mr. Smith said. “Four greens drafted the bill. They knew that the key spot in the Endangered Species Act was the word ‘practicable.’ They took it out. They said that you may not take any action that harms endangered species…They said they knew exactly what they were doing and were ignored.”

Mr. Smith described the flood of regulations since the red cockaded woodpecker’s rediscovery. In Boiling Springs Lake, North Carolina, he related, landowners are cutting thousands of trees because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent a letter announcing that it would be designating habitat for the woodpecker. This started the North Carolina Chainsaw Massacre. A sign announces that the entire town is, or was, a bird sanctuary, and along the roads are windrows of chips and huge log piles.

“All the time that we’ve had the Endangered Species Act, there have been no recoveries from being on that list,” he said. “The few recoveries have been from things that were not from the Endangered Species Act. Three things barely recovered…One was the cinquefoil plant along the northern reaches of Maine on the Appalachian Trail. They moved the trail 30 feet.”

Rails to Trails Funding & Property Rights Abuses

Speaker Linda S. Rowley, a grassroots activist who lives in the Village of Haydenville, Massachusetts, has spent over ten years fighting the corruption in trail funding and the abuses of private property rights involved in the Northampton bike trail planned through her back yard.

“We were a local group of property owners whose rights were stripped away for a group of people who wanted nothing to stand in the way of their bake paths,” she said. With her group, she dug deep into misuse of federal transportation funds to pay for the recreational bike path, when the federal law requires that the funds be solely used to create trails for alternate commuting routes.

She pointed out that prior to her long effort that resulted in a new route listed in the Transportation Enhancement Program (TIP report) for 2007 Federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality law funding, the Northampton trail ended at the town line, which is “in the middle of the woods, far from any roads or access points.” To use the trail, “people would have then just turned around and come back the same way on the paved path…According to Federal/State guidelines, a bike path needs a proper terminus. It might include a park, a highway or some logical end point, but not the middle of the woods.”

She explained that the Federal Highway Administration guidelines provide, “there will be no Federal Highway money spent through any Enhancement Programs to take land by hostile eminent domain.” Yet, the Village of Northampton was taking four acres of cemetery property at St. Mary’s Church in Haydenville. The Village also wrongly used eminent domain to make a title determination, which the law for the federal and state Enhancement funding requires be done before the use of eminent domain, she said.

She has been assured by the federal and state highway departments that they will not sign off for the $1.5 million of tax funding for fiscal year 2007 “until all the I’s have been dotted and the T’s crossed. In other words, no money without clear and proven title,” she said. “But according to the rules, regulations and guidelines, this should have been taken care of ten years ago.”

Using a timeline, she demonstrated how the Village repeatedly disregarded the requirement for public participation in the federal law, whether open meetings law, freedom of information law, or the requirements for public hearings.

The trail route infringed on the property rights of many individuals. “One of our members lost the sale of their house because half of it was on the right-of-way,” she said. Their petition to decide title to the properties went to the highest court of Massachusetts. “The Supreme Judicial Court ruled in our favor in March of 2003…So now, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a railroad right-of-way is considered a road and a way, as well as ‘other similar linear monument’ according to the Derelict Fee Statute under Massachusetts General Law.”

“I vowed years ago that I would not give up on this project until I could find the responsible party or parties for such a gross miscarriage of public process and trampling over private property, all the while spending my tax money to do it. Well, I am still here today, still looking for that answer.”

National Heritage Areas

Peyton Knight, Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at The National Center for Public Policy Research, addressed the issue of congressionally designated federal greenways, a National Park Service program to create National Heritage Areas involving many vast corridors of mainly private property which is then under the gun for preservation zoning and government land acquisition.

“What is a National Heritage Area?” he asked, to introduce his subject. “It is a pork-barrel earmark that harms property rights and state and local government.”

“Heritage Areas have management plans,” he explained. “All management plans include lists of properties that the National Park Service and federal agencies want acquired and preserved, for their natural and historic significance.”

“Proponents claim that these are only bills to drive tourism; but the bills that are created have very little to drive tourism,” he said. “It is marketing that drives tourism.”

Mr. Knight quoted James Burling, senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation in his criticism of this year’s bill to create the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area: “The legacy we will leave to future generations will not be the preservation of our history, but of the preservation of a façade masquerading as our history subverted by the erosion of the rights that animated our history for the first two centuries of the Republic.”

He also quoted the late New York State Congressman Gerald B. Solomon, arguing for the defeat of the first proposed generic National Heritage Area program in 1994: “The environmentalists advocating this bill have federal land use control as their primary objective.”

He cited the example recently of the effects of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area. In Yuma County, Arizona, after the area was designated, citizens were surprised by the size and scope of the designation, he said. “The fear of adverse impacts on private property rights were realized when local government agencies began to use the immense heritage area boundary to determine zoning restrictions.”

Pointing out the threat of federal acquisition of land in heritage areas for National Parks, Mr. Knight said, “Deputy director of the National Park Service, Donald Murphy testified before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks that one of the things the Park Service does when administering National Heritage Areas is survey land that would be suitable for future National Parks or National Park expansions.”

International Assault on U.S. Property Rights

Lawrence A. Kogan, Esq., CEO of the non-profit Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development, presented a commentary about the pressure the European Union is creating against private property rights in the United States.

“Private Property Rights are something that are not always internationally valued,” he said, to introduce his topic of “U.S. Private Property Rights Under International Assault.” “What we’re looking at today is how local and federal authorities are infringing on our rights. But there’s a bigger thing out there.”

Instead of sticking closely to the paper he had prepared for the conference, he summarized the enormity of the threats to private property rights under what he termed “The Seven Cs”:

“There is a growing movement against capitalism and private property rights,” he said. “They don’t understand our Constitution’s recognition of inalienable rights. Their constitution tries to create rights.”

“Bonner Cohen, R. J. Smith, and Fred Grau mentioned the Precautionary Principle on environment and health,” he said. “I fear; therefore I should bend. Through this framework they have hit every single issue on every subject.”

“In the U.S., we take a look at the precautionary risk. We look at the possibilities,” he said, explaining the importance of sound science and risk analysis. “Europe doesn’t like that; they front-load their regulatory scheme. This means reversals of burdens of proof in courts. Government doesn’t have to prove it’s right. You have to prove you’re not wrong.”

“Stay abreast of what is happening internationally more than you would otherwise be inclined to do,” he advised the conference participants.

With that admonition, those gathered for the conference had time for questions and answers, then to meet the speakers at the reception, and perhaps still find Bonner Cohen to autograph The Green Wave.

Appreciation Extended, Tapes Available

Much appreciation to the generous Co-sponsors who helped make possible the Tenth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights: The Building and Realty Institute of Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Region, Civil Property Rights Associates, Communities for a Great Northwest, The National Center for Public Policy Research, New York Farm Bureau, and SUA News.com. We’d also like to thank many other generous donors.

Cassette tapes of the conference are available from Acts, Inc., (1-800-642-2287, www.actsconferenceproducts.com/merchant/pr.asp) Proceedings of the conference will be published early next year. - CWL

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