Alabama bans Sustainable Development and Smart Growth

Alabama Blog

Senate Bill 477, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, is intended to shelter Alabamians from the United Nations Agenda 21, a sustainable development initiative that some conservatives see as a Trojan horse for the creation of a world government.

“The State of Alabama and all political subdivisions may not adopt or implement policy recommendations that deliberately or inadvertently infringe or restrict private property rights without due process, as may be required by policy recommendations originating in, or traceable to ‘Agenda 21,’ the bill said.

The legislation has already passed the Senate and now goes to the governor.

New American

Alabama became the first state to adopt a tough law protecting private property and due process by prohibiting any government involvement with or participation in a controversial United Nations scheme known as Agenda 21. Activists from across the political spectrum celebrated the measure’s approval as a significant victory against the UN “sustainability” plot, expressing hope that similar sovereignty-preserving measures would be adopted in other states as the nationwide battle heats up.

The Alabama Senate Bill (SB) 477 legislation, known unofficially among some supporters as the “Due Process for Property Rights” Act, was approved unanimously by both the state House and Senate. After hesitating for a few days, late last month Republican Governor Robert Bentley finally signed into law the wildly popular measure — but only after heavy pressure from activists forced his hand.

Virtually no mention of the law was made in the establishment press. But analysts said the measure was likely the strongest protection against the UN scheme passed anywhere in America so far. The law, aimed at protecting private property rights, specifically prevents all state agencies and local governments in Alabama from participating in the global scheme in any way.

“The State of Alabama and all political subdivisions may not adopt or implement policy recommendations that deliberately or inadvertently infringe or restrict private property rights without due process, as may be required by policy recommendations originating in, or traceable to ‘Agenda 21,’ ” the law states, adding a brief background on the UN plan hatched at the 1992 “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro.

The people of Alabama acting through their elected representatives — not UN bureaucrats — have the authority to develop the state’s environmental and development policies, the official synopsis of the law explains. Therefore, infringements on the property rights of citizens linked to “any other international law or ancillary plan of action that contravenes the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the State of Alabama” are also prohibited under the new measure.

Of course, as the law points out, the UN has enlisted a broad array of non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations in its effort to foist Agenda 21 on the world — most notably a Germany-based group called ICLEI, formerly known as the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives. But the new measure takes direct aim at that problem, too: “the State of Alabama and all political subdivisions may not enter into any agreement, expend any sum of money, or receive funds contracting services, or giving financial aid to or from” any such entities, as defined in Agenda 21 documents.

“This bill, that would bar the state from taking over private property without due process, is intended to shelter Alabamians from the United Nations Agenda 21, a sustainable development initiative that some conservatives see as a precursor for the creation of a world government,” explained Alabama GOP Executive Director T.J. Maloney when announcing that it had been signed into law. The Republican National Committee (RNC) adopted a resolution earlier this year blasting the global scheme and urging policy makers to oppose it, and state parties have followed suit.

Public support for the Alabama law was overwhelming and bipartisan as citizens who had been terrorized by Agenda 21-linked schemes targeting their private property spoke out. But according to analysts and state Republican Party officials cited in press reports, Gov. Bentley was originally hesitant to sign the bill — almost certainly due to concerns over the potential loss of some federal funding.

The U.S. Senate, of course, has never formally ratified Agenda 21. But the executive branch — in conjunction with accomplices at the international, state, and local levels — has for two decades been quietly attempting to impose the plan on Americans by stealth, mostly using deceptive terms like “Smart Growth” and “Green.” And proponents of the global scheme consistently threaten that states seeking to protect citizens from the UN plot could end up losing some federal funds.

“Every time you take a dollar of federal money, there’s strings attached,” explained Ken Freeman, chairman of the Alabama-based group Alliance for Citizens Rights (ACR), an organization that fought hard to ensure that the Governor signed the bill into law. “We were originally walking soft on this issue, to tell you the truth, because when things were going our way, why change anything?”

But when Gov. Bentley did not immediately approve the bill, Freeman told a reporter, ACR turned the activism up a notch, urging citizens to contact the Governor’s office and express their support for the measure. The grassroots pressure paid off: Alabama became the first state to be officially shielded by law from UN-linked anti-property rights scheming.

“It seems that Agenda 21 does actually bring people together in communities — just not in the way the U.N. had hoped for,” remarked Justice Gilpin-Green in a column for the conservative site Townhall, citing Freeman and other instrumental supporters of the effort. “Hopefully other states can mirror Alabama’s determined nature in passing their anti-Agenda 21 legislation. It was citizen awareness and direct action that finally brought about the needed changes last week and that same awareness and action will be needed for the future of every other state.”

Legislative analysts said the bill, sponsored by GOP state Sen. Gerald Dial, was extremely well crafted: protecting citizens and individual rights from UN decrees in a simple, straightforward manner that Agenda 21 advocates would have a hard time criticizing. Liberty-minded organizations and lawmakers are already examining the measure for potential use as a model in other states currently struggling to expel the global scheme and its myriad tentacles.

“Alabama House Bill 618 [SB 477] is a large step towards protecting Alabamians against UN meddling. It protects the due process rights of Alabamians. It keeps Constitutional Law above International Law,” noted Jason Baker, a Montgomery-based conservative pundit with the Examiner. “Now state after state awakens to the threat it poses to freedom and sovereignty.”

Across America, Tea Party groups, liberty-minded Democrats, libertarians, and a broad coalition of activists have been turning up the heat on Agenda 21. Tennessee, for example, adopted a bipartisan state resolution slamming the UN scheme as an “insidious” and “socialist” plot that is completely at odds with American traditions of limited government, individual freedom, private property, and self-governance under the Constitution. Numerous other states are pursuing similar measures.

A bill similar to Alabama’s seeking a complete ban on Agenda 21 and unconstitutional UN “sustainability” efforts in Arizona was approved overwhelmingly in the state Senate. The legislation died in the state House even after clearing several hurdles, however, when the legislative session ended before a final vote could be taken. New Hampshire is reportedly working on a bill to ban Agenda 21 that sailed through the state House last month.

Meanwhile, local governments across America — under intense pressure from citizens and activist groups — are slowly awakening to what critics call the “dangers” of the UN scheme. Dozens of cities and counties have withdrawn from ICLEI in recent years, and as awareness continues to grow, that trend is expected to accelerate.

The UN, however, is doubling down on its controversial plan. In June, governments from all over the world will be meeting in Rio de Janeiro for the so-called “Conference on Sustainable Development” — known as Rio+20 for short. According to official documents released by the global body, the summit, headed by Chinese Communist Sha Zukang, will be seeking to dramatically transform human civilization under the guise of environmentalism.

Production, education, consumption, individual rights, and even people’s thoughts will all be targeted under the global plan to create a so-called “green economy,” the UN admitted. But with the tidal wave of opposition in America growing stronger every single day, analysts expect fierce U.S. opposition — if not from the Obama administration, at least from the increasingly outraged citizenry.

The bill is a silly nullity as such actions taken without due process would be unconstitutional anyway.

Garden Housing in London Halves- Green Party #NPPF


A backlash against “garden grabbing” has caused a huge fall in the number of homes being built in back yards.

Over five years, with changes to planning rules, the number of  such homes being approved by London councils has  fallen by 49 per cent, a report by the Green Party has revealed today.

Local authorities who responded to Freedom of Information requests gave the go-ahead for 321 units in 2010/11, compared with 630 in 2006.

These included 90 in Enfield, 54 in Bexley, 33 in Hounslow and 20 in Wandsworth, which all bucked the trend by approving more homes.

The Greens urged boroughs to tighten up their policies. They say gardens play a vital role in preventing flooding, cooling the city in heatwaves and providing children with somewhere to play.

Hundreds of “garden grabbing” planning applications are being contested. Many would condemn neighbours to overshadowing, a lack of privacy and noise nuisance.

There are also concerns that council planners are setting a precedent for cramming in poor-quality homes.

The Government reclassified back gardens from being brownfield land in 2010 to give councils greater powers to stop development.

Boris Johnson’s latest London Plan also urged boroughs to introduce a presumption against development.

Green London Assembly member Darren Johnson said: “Despite planning changes introduced to protect back gardens from development, Bexley, Enfield, Hounslow and Wandsworth approved more housing units last year than they did five years before.

“I urge them to tighten up their policies or apply them more rigorously.

“With the predicted increase in London’s population and pressure for new housing, councils must do all they can to avoid developing London’s back gardens. These are vital habitats for wildlife, gardening and play.

“They also play an increasingly important role in cooling the city during heat waves and soaking up rain during heavy rainfall.”

Wandsworth said it expected to adopt a presumption against development in back gardens while Enfield said it would consider one. However, Kingston and Ealing said they had no such plans.

Planning rules were  changed after the proportion of new homes built on residential land rose from one in 10 to one in four between 1997 and 2008.

Why UK investment bonds for housing & infrastructure are a bad idea

The UK newspapers have been full over the past few days of the latest wheeze to boost investment whilst maintaining austerity and not increasing on balance sheet public borrowing.

Apparently Clegg and Cameron have ordered a reluctant Treasury to implement a scheme on the following lines:

-bonds are issued off balance sheet by the private sector for public infrastructure and social housing

-these are taken up by pension funds and private savers

-the government guarantees these bonds.  As this is considered to be a ‘contingent liability’ this is considered not to add to public spending (though debt rating agencies will of course consider it)

-there could be a tax break to encourage such ‘saving’

The first issue is that unlike debt finance it will not add to aggregate demand just shift it.  There will be a transfer from private bank accounts to public ones.  This will only cause growth if the multiplier of the investment is greater than the multiplier of the opportunity cost of what it would have been spent on.  This is likely to be positive (greater than 1) because of the likelihood that much money was held in idle balances and because of the high multiplier in construction etc.  However the netting will reduce the impact and is likely to be less than from debt (or other State) finance.  This is because debt finance causes over the first half of the period an expansion in aggregate demand which can cause growth.  That growth then can offset the deflationary impact of the loan being paid back over the second half of the loan period.  The ‘ricardian equivalence’ argument is sometimes put in terms of additional taxation to pay for the lending, but this is secondary, loans are expansionary in terms of AD when taken out and contractionary when paid back.  If a government has a budget constraint and sticks to it over the loan period then it will spend an increased fixed amount of its budget on loan repayments but if the investment causes growth then other government expenditure need not decrease in proportion – i.e. there need not be any tax increases at all.  In addition tax breaks and the presentation of very attractive investments could lead to decreases in consumption and increases in savings rates – both negative to aggregate demand.

The second issue will be how withdrawls from private bank accounts affects total private lending.  If bank deposits see a net withdrawl to government balances then  there will be a net drawdown in bank reserves, slowly built back up over time as the bonds pay out.  At the moment we are in the worst possible time for reducing net bank reserves.  Bank lending is of course not reserve constrained – I would say it is profit constrained rather than equity constrained.  In fiat banking a bank will make assumptions about the rate at which its liabilities in terms of bank accounts will be paid back.  If the withdrawl rate from accounts is higher or lower than this the bank will have less cash on hand.  Without reserve requirements banks will always attempt to put cash on hand to produce use through profitable investments, and so reduce reserves to near zero, solely what they will need to terms of daily withdrawal projections.  If additional withdrawls send these negative then the bank in the short term will be required to undertake short terms financing at a cost and reducing profitability (and hence the ability to lend), or if persistent to delever less performing loans to restore positive cash flow.   So either way a withdrawl of reserves will have a negative impact on bank lending.  If the leverage ration is 20:1 then for each £1 of investment in such bonds then there will be up to a £20 deleveraging of private bank lending.  Now note I am saying ‘up to’ because clearly at the moment we have a problem in terms of a shortage of lending and banks are rebuilding their balance sheets.  But the point is the same, the last thing we should be doing at the moment is reducing aggregate demand and reducing the ability of banks to lend.  These bonds are a very bad idea, it is much better for the State to invest directly.

Note:  Those fmailiar with my writings will know I am applying a circuitist post Keynesian model of money creation here applied to a business model of banking and Steve Keen’s model of aggregate demand =existing money in circulation+change in debt+net change in income from assets (an old model used by Hawtry in modern mathematical form).

Local Opposition Single Biggest Barrier to New Housing – Local Government Leaders


Ensuring that new housing development comes with roads, schools and parks is vital to tackling the housing crisis and overcoming public opposition, local government leaders have said.

A survey of frontline councillors carried out by the Local Government Association reveals that public opposition is the single biggest barrier to the building of new homes. However, development which comes with appropriate infrastructure is nearly four times more likely to be supported by the public, according to councillors. 

The LGA is today launching a ‘Housing the Nation’ campaign, calling on government to remove some of the restrictions hampering local authority efforts to tackle the nation’s housing crisis.

It is warning that councils’ efforts to ensure that all new developments come with the appropriate infrastructure like roads, schools and parks risk being undermined by government proposals to allow developers to force councils to reopen Section 106 agreements previously agreed with developers. 

According to government figures only 106,050 new homes were built in 2010/11 compared to 160,030 in 1990/91. Approximately 250,000 are required each year to meet demand.

The LGA’s survey of frontline councillors found that:

  • Four in five respondent councillors (84 per cent) say their local authority area is in need of new housing.
  • 42 per cent of councillors thought residents in their area were, on balance, opposed to new housing.
  • But, when proposed housing developments comes with the necessary infrastructure, only 11 per cent of councillors said residents would still be opposed.
  • Public opposition was cited as single biggest barrier to new housing. 59 per cent of councillors said it had been a barrier to new housing developments in their area in the past two years.

Cllr Keith House, Deputy Chairman of the LGA’s Environment Board, said:

“It is widely recognised by all that we desperately need new homes and at the moment, there simply aren’t enough being built.

“Councils play a crucial role both in providing affordable and social housing and working with developers to plan new private sector housing. But to do this more effectively, local authorities need greater freedom and financial control to invest in new and existing homes. The constraints of Whitehall are preventing local authorities from tackling the housing crisis.

“Our survey shows that one of the biggest obstacles to new housing being built is public opposition. People don’t dispute the desperate need for new housing. But quite understandably they just don’t want a new housing estate down the road if it is going to lead to congested roads and crowded classrooms. 

“Councillors have to balance the interests of their residents with the wider needs of the area. The current economic crisis means that new development is scarce and councils are doing what they can to encourage growth in their areas. This includes providing land and assets, overwhelmingly saying ‘yes’ through the planning process and, where appropriate, renegotiating Section 106 agreements.

“By allowing local authorities the flexibility to finance new homes and make best use of the homes already available councils can play a role to turn the tide on the housing crisis and get to work providing the new homes the country so desperately needs.”

ICE calls for Greater Water Metering to Increase Water Security


ICE’s State of the Nation: Water report has called for decisive and prompt action to tackle the UK’s water security, which they warn will continue to worsen if not addressed urgently.

 The report, launched by President Richard Coakley, says the recent droughts have been a ‘wake up call’ for the UK but the urgency and severity of the UK’s water issues is still not properly understood. It rates our current water security as level 4 on a 1-10 scale.

To tackle the crisis ICE has called for the creation of a ‘UK Water Security Taskforce’ to deliver an integrated roadmap to water security by spring 2014, based on strategic plans from all Governments. If the roadmap includes time-bound steps the UK could be out of danger – at water security level 8 or 9 – by 2025.

To achieve this, the report makes several recommendations for change including the development of new water storage facilities across the country, the removal of regulatory barriers that discourage water sharing between neighbouring companies and collaborative investment in new infrastructure, and the phased introduction of universal metering, with social tariffs to protect the poorest in society.

Chair of the ICE Water Panel Michael Norton said there is no silver bullet solution. “We are a populous nation facing a growing gap between what we can supply and what our water users need. Sadly it’s only when hose-pipe bans are inflicted on us that the public has any glimpse of this reality. We have a valuable opportunity while water is in the forefront of the nation’s minds to impress on the public the real value of this resource and we mustn’t squander it.

“The changes ICE is recommending will require some upheaval to current regulations as well as firm decisions on how to forecast future demand, but once done we would see the effect relatively quickly.”

The report says changing pricing structures to reflect the true value of water and building smaller but more evenly distributed water storage facilities across the UK will be crucial.

Currently most households pay only a £1 per day for unlimited water, which requires a costly treatment process to make it potable. ICE says in the long-term using expensive, potable water for everything including outside activities like watering the garden is unsustainable. It calls for a 30% reduction of per capita consumption in homes (currently 150 litres per day) and discretionary tariffs that reward low usage with prices rising as usage increases.

Michael said: “Commonly thought of ‘rainy’ areas won’t be like that in the future – rainfall will be more varied, both in terms of time and location – so relying on very large reservoirs in only one or two places will no longer be effective.

”However the single biggest problem is the low value we place on water. It’s currently much undervalued and provided to most of us without limit. The UN has rightly stated that water for health and hygiene is a human right and should be affordable to the whole of society, but it makes up only a small proportion of our direct water use (less than 15%). Everything else is discretionary and should be charged as such.”

This would also encourage a public shift in attitude towards solutions that can significantly reduce domestic water such as recycling household water for non-drinking uses and rainwater harvesting for outside uses such as watering the garden. Currently potable water is so affordable to most of us that there is little public appetite for recycling water in the home, however using this ‘grey water’ to flush the toilet alone could reduce domestic water usage by a third.

Whilst the Government has made some positive steps in the Water White Paper and the announcement of a draft Water Bill, the report urges it to deliver on these intentions without delay and within the context of a UK-wide vision. Download a copy of the report at