In March 2010, Nor-Cal Produce, a family-owned produce business in West Sacramento, was fined $32,500 by the California Air Resources Board (ARB, or CARB). The company was not charged with, or even accused of, illegal emissions; like many other businesses, it had merely failed to notice a new regulation posted by CARB requiring all semi-trailers, shipping containers, vans, and rail cars with diesel-powered refrigerators to file a report with the agency. “We had no knowledge of the law,” Nor-Cal’s Chief Financial Officer Todd Achando told CalWatchDog, a news blog that monitors California government. “My operations manager happened to see it mentioned in a trade magazine about a year and a half after the deadline passed.” Because Nor-Cal reported itself to CARB and “cooperated,” the agency reduced the $200/day fine from $86,600 to $32,500.
Kit Enger and his fellow dune buggy manufacturers also cooperated with CARB, but found it was like dealing with a mob “protection racket.” Enger, president of the Compliant Car Builders Association in Oceanside, California, said association members attended the agency’s “implementation outreach workshop” for OHRV (off-highway recreational vehicles) and worked “diligently with CARB certification staff to devise a program whereby all industry members could efficiently and effectively certify their vehicles and engines.” Despite the increased costs and inconvenience of complying with CARB’s new regulations, association members thought things were going pretty well — until January 2008 when CARB hit them with $3.6 million in penalties for alleged violations. The association’s lawyers worked the fine down to $600,000, but Enger says even that penalty was unconstitutional, amounting to an ex post facto prosecution for engines modified and sold before the new CARB regulations went into effect.
“My lawyers said it would cost more than $600,000 to fight it, so we might as well pay it. It’s like a protection racket — government out of control,” said Enger. When he testified before CARB in November 2009, Enger told the board that one of their CARB enforcement officers had told him on two occasions, “If you guys don’t get on with this settlement, it doesn’t matter to us if you go out of business, change your name, move to another state, or die, we will find you and attach your assets.”
Thousands of businesses have already fled the “protection racket” of government in what was once known as the Golden State; thousands more are following, taking with them hundreds of thousands of jobs. The state’s tax and regulatory policies have driven the cost of energy, as well as every other business expense, sky high. Yet, despite facing $25 billion in debt, a huge current budget deficit, and default on its bonds (not to mention sky-high unemployment, over 12 percent), the state’s politicians and bureaucrats continue to chase the productive tax base — and jobs — out of California. Joseph Vranich of Irvine, California, known as “The Business Relocation Coach,” keeps a running tab on companies leaving the state. His December 6, 2010 blog carries this headline: “New Record for Calif. Companies
Departing or Shifting Work Out: 193 —
Nearly Four Times Last Year’s Level.”
The jobs that are leaving or shutting down are not only the manufacturing and resource jobs in companies that greenies love to denigrate as “old, has-been” industries; they include many of the highly touted “green” companies that are now seeking greener pastures elsewhere. One of them is Solyndra, the solar panel maker from Fremont, which announced layoffs of 170 workers in December. Only a few months earlier Solyndra had hosted a much publicized press conference with President Barack Obama and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, both of whom lauded the company as an exemplar of the “green economy” that would provide many thousands of new “green jobs.” Solyndra received a $535 million loan from the Department of Energy to build a new state-of-the-art, robotics-run factory, which it calls Fab 2. In November 2010, Solyndra announced it was mothballing Fab 1 and postponing earlier plans to expand Fab 2, citing weak sales and the weak economy.
Other California “green-tech” firms have closed or are shifting much of their operations out of the state. For example:
• Barefoot Motors, maker of electric ATVs, moved to Oregon.
• Mariah Power, a manufacturer of small wind turbines, moved to Nevada and Michigan.
• Sonatype, Inc., which services many high-tech companies, moved to Maryland.
• Adobe Systems, Inc., the software giant, is building its huge new campus in Utah.
Other companies that have jumped ship from California include Fidelity National Financial (moved operations to Florida); CalPortland Cement (closed its Riverside County plant); Buck Knives (moved to Idaho); Multi-Fineline Electronix, Inc. (moved to China); and Thomas Brothers Maps (moved to Illinois and India).
These are only a fraction of the “primary companies” that have made the news; thousands of secondary companies — restaurants, service outlets, retail stores, construction companies, trucking companies, farms, ranches, mom-and-pop businesses — have vanished with no media notice.
And the picture will only get uglier for California, as the state government pushes forward with implementing Assembly Bill 32, or AB 32, formally known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. According to a 2009 study by Dr. Sanjay B. Varshney, dean of the College of Business Administration at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), and Dr. Dennis H. Tootelian, professor of marketing and director of the Center for Small Business at CSUS, the impact of the bill’s cap-and-trade and regulatory features could be horrendous. They found:
On average, the annual costs resulting from the implementation of AB 32 to small businesses are likely to result in loss of more than $182.6 billion in gross state output, the equivalent of more than 1.1 million jobs, nearly $76.8 billion in labor income, and nearly $5.8 billion in indirect business taxes…. Accordingly, the total cost of AB 32 is $49,691 per small business in California.
As would be expected, the Varshney/Tootelian study has drawn heated criticism, especially from academics, activists, and politicians still ardently supporting the discredited alarmist “consensus” regarding anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming. The critics have produced studies claiming to show that any economic and/or job losses due to AB 32 will be negligible; some even predict positive growth as a result. Of course, many of these critics are the same ones who predicted the massive new “green jobs” that never materialized. Whether or not the Varshney/Tootelian study may have been “defective” in methodology, its predictions appear to be more firmly grounded in reality than those of its critics. The exodus of capital, technology, talent, and jobs from California has been accelerating, and as the CARB “racketeers” begin enforcing the draconian measures provided under AB 32, it will almost certainly pick up more speed.
California’s losses will mean more gains for Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and many other states — but perhaps only temporarily. Many of the states and communities that California companies are fleeing to are headed in the same direction as California. If they do not change course, they soon will see the same economic forces driving the erstwhile California refugee businesses on to Mexico, India, China, and the other usual destinations.
ICLEI, the Hidden UN Component
There is a hidden component to the saga of California’s ongoing woes that is gradually coming to light, hopefully in time to enable other states to avert the same calamity. That hidden component is becoming more visible as we near 2012, which the United Nations will celebrate as the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit. Known officially as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the eco-confab in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was unprecedented in size and scope, bringing together some 35,000 government officials, diplomats, NGO activists, and journalists. Rio became the launch pad for a number of huge initiatives that have been gradually gaining force and wreaking havoc on the planet in the intervening decades. The five main documents to come out of the UNCED process are:
• The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
• The Statement of Forest Principles
• The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
• The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity
• Agenda 21
The Climate Change and Biological Diversity conventions were posited as “hard law” treaties that impose binding obligations upon the ratifying parties; the other three are referred to as “soft law” documents, instruments that commit the parties to a path of pursuing later “hard law” commitments. President George H.W. Bush signed the Climate Change Convention in 1992 and the U.S. Senate ratified it the same year. However, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated to implement specific greenhouse gas reductions under the convention, has not been signed or ratified by the United States Senate. Although President Obama declared his commitment to securing a new binding Climate Convention, the November 2010 elections have pretty much sunk chances for any Kyoto replacement passing in the Senate.
Realizing the difficulty in getting some national governments — and especially the United States — to go along with a climate-change treaty that would require massive government intrusion into and regulation of all aspects of energy production and consumption, the UNCED leaders launched simultaneous efforts to build political support for ratification by also initiating efforts aimed at winning enactment of global-warming legislation at the state and local levels. One of the primary instruments that has been used by the UN and globalist advocates to advance their plans is an NGO known as ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability.
“ICLEI was founded in 1990,” its website states, “as the ‘International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives,’” and the organization “is an association of over 1200 local government Members who are committed to sustainable development. Our Members come from 70 different countries and represent more than 569,885,000 people.”
ICLEI-USA boasts of its members: “Their populations range in size from 832 people in Cimarron, New Mexico, to more than 8 million in New York City.” And they “consistently top the rankings of the Greenest Cities,” it adds. “They have led the effort in recent years to envision, accelerate and achieve strong climate protection goals, creating cleaner, healthier, more economically viable communities.”
More than 130 of those ICLEI members are California counties and cities that have led the efforts that now have California mimicking the economic “viability” of Greece and Spain, both of which, by the way, are longtime model supporters and members of ICLEI. Spain, which has been one of the biggest promoters of “green jobs,” has learned the folly of its ways the hard way: It killed more than two existing jobs for every green job created. To make matters worse, many of the green jobs proved to be temporary, vanishing after the subsidized solar panels and wind turbines were constructed. Trodding the same path are California’s ICLEI cities, among which are virtually all the major metro areas — Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco — as well as smaller cities from Alameda to Yountville.
ICLEI’s website informs us:
The Council was established when more than 200 local governments from 43 countries convened at our inaugural conference, the World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future, at the United Nations in New York.
It notes that in 2003 it changed its name to “ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability,” no doubt to place more emphasis on the “local” and to diminish concerns about its “international” influence and its political and financial ties to the United Nations. As we will show, ICLEI and other UN-affiliated NGOs and government officials have come under increasing suspicion in recent years from more and more American citizens, and have taken to camouflaging their UN-driven environmental agendas, even to the point of denying obvious and easily documented connections.
On its web page entitled “ICLEI: Connecting Leaders,” ICLEI explains some of its networking strategies. They include:
Connect cities and local governments to the United Nations and other international bodies. ICLEI represents local governments at the United Nations (UN) Commission on Sustainable Development, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Conventions on Biodiversity and Combating Desertification and co-operates with the UN Environment Programme and UN-HABITAT.
That seems pretty clear: ICLEI’s mission is to “connect” local government to the UN and its affiliates. It goes on:
Mobilize local governments to help their countries implement multilateral environmental agreements such as the Rio conventions through Cities for Climate Protection, Local Action for Biodiversity and other initiatives.
Again, fairly straightforward: Get the locals to lobby and pressure the national government to hop on board the global programs that will transfer more money, authority, and power to the UN. ICLEI continues:
Forge multi-stakeholder partnerships such as Resilient Cities, a global framework on urban resilience and climate adaptation where local governments, international agencies, development banks, ministries, institutes, and others, collaborate.
Translation: bribe, entice, seduce, flatter local officials, NGOs, and corporations to join the green lobby.
Agenda 21’s Stealth Agenda
The ICLEI web page also states that its Local Agenda 21 Model Communities Programme is “designed to aid local governments in implementing Chapter 28 of Agenda 21, the global action plan for sustainable development.” Although the Climate Change Convention has dominated the media headlines and political landscape for many years, Agenda 21 is even more far-reaching and dangerous. As we approach the 2012 Earth Summit, to be convened once again in Rio, this massive environmental, economic, and social “master plan” for the entire planet is being promoted with new intensity.
However, as we have already mentioned, some of the leading proponents of empowering the UN in the name of protecting the global environment counsel their fellow activists to hide their true intentions. That’s exactly what J. Gary Lawrence, an advisor to President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development and to US AID, advised in a seminar in London, England, entitled, “The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium,” sponsored by the United Nations Environment and Development Forum, UK (UNED-UK). After complimenting his British audience for their success in getting the UK to adopt much of the UN’s Earth Summit program, Lawrence lamented, “Other places have been much slower to adopt LA21 [Local Agenda 21].”
“In some cases,” he noted, “LA21 is seen as an attack on the power of the nation-state.” Which, of course, it most definitely is, as we will show. The former Clinton advisor continued:
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 freedom would be stripped away would actively work to defeat any elected official who joined “the conspiracy” by undertaking LA21. So, we call our processes something else, such as comprehensive planning, growth management or smart growth.
Yes, over the past two decades much of Agenda 21 and the rest of the Earth Summit program have been enacted piecemeal at the state and local levels, but as “Smart Growth Initiatives,” “Resilient Cities,” “Regional Visioning Projects,” “STAR Sustainable Communities,” “Green Jobs,” and “Green Building Codes.” After going through charades labeled as “local visioning,” “community in-put,” and “consensus building,” one community after another has found that it has enacted a “local” program that is virtually indistinguishable from every other “local” program, whether across the country or across the planet. The more important point, though, is that these initiatives that have been enacted ostensibly to save the environment, invariably destroy economic vitality, erode property rights, undermine liberty and constitutional government, impose soviet-style rule through “stakeholder councils,” subvert local control — and usually devastate the natural environment to boot.
But desperate measures are necessary to “save Mother Earth,” and only a comprehensive, global plan will do, argue the alarmists. The UN’s Agenda 21 is definitely comprehensive and global — breathtakingly so. Agenda 21 proposes a global regime that will monitor, oversee, and strictly regulate our planet’s oceans, lakes, streams, rivers, aquifers, sea beds, coastlands, wetlands, forests, jungles, grasslands, farmland, deserts, tundra, and mountains. It even has a whole section on regulating and “protecting” the atmosphere. It proposes plans for cities, towns, suburbs, villages, and rural areas. It envisions a global scheme for healthcare, education, nutrition, agriculture, labor, production, and consumption — in short, everything; there is nothing on, in, over, or under the Earth that doesn’t fall within the purview of some part of Agenda 21. Copies of the 1,100-page document were hard to come by for several years after its debut at Rio, but I was able to bring back a “media copy” of the five-pound “treasure” from the summit. It is now available online at http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/.
The most accessible version of Agenda 21 to come out following the Rio summit was published under the title AGENDA 21: The Earth Summit Strategy to Save Our Planet (Earthpress, 1993). Edited by environmental-activist attorney Daniel Sitarz and enthusiastically endorsed by Earth Summit chief Maurice Strong and then-U.S. Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), the book is instructive for demonstrating the completely alien mindset that holds sway in so many influential political, academic, and media circles. Sitarz’s edition provides a powerful, albeit unintended, indictment of the UN agreement by offering this candid appraisal of the plan’s totalitarian ambition. Incredibly, Sitarz admits with apparent approval that:
AGENDA 21 proposes an array of actions which are intended to be implemented by every person on Earth…. It calls for specific changes in the activities of all people….
Effective execution of AGENDA 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced — a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision-making at every level.
The admission is so staggering as to require recapitulation: “profound reorientation,” “all human society,” “every person on Earth,” “every human action,” “every level,” “demand,” “require.” In short, it is an undisguised call for the total regimentation of all life on the planet.
Nevertheless, editor Sitarz continued his praise for the wondrous text, noting:
There are specific actions which are intended to be undertaken by multinational corporations and entrepreneurs, by financial institutions and individual investors, by high-tech companies and indigenous people, by workers and labor unions, by farmers and consumers, by students and schools, by governments and legislators, by scientists, by women, by children — in short, by every person on Earth.
The tyrannical implications are so stunningly transparent that it seems impossible that any nation not overtly communist could endorse it. Yet it was unanimously endorsed by every nation at the summit, including the United States. Not even Stalin, Hitler, or Mao came close to proposing anything this all-intrusive and all-encompassing.
But the hubris goes much further still. One of the most sacred totems in the UN’s green theology is “sustainable development.” The Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide, published in 1996 by ICLEI, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has been an important manual for teaching ICLEI’s “local” acolytes and accomplices the “sustainability” game. It boasts a foreword from former Earth Summit chief Maurice Strong, who currently is president of the council of the UN’s University for Peace. The Guide asks the rhetorical question: “What is Sustainable Development?” It then provides this revealing answer:
The realities of life on our planet dictate that continued economic development as we know it cannot be sustained…. Sustainable development, therefore, is a program of action for local and global economic reform — a program that has yet to be fully defined.
Yes, that is correct; the program that is absolutely essential to our very existence “has yet to be fully defined.” It goes on:
No one fully understands how, or even if, sustainable development can be achieved; however, there is a growing consensus that it must be accomplished at the local level if it is ever to be achieved on a global basis.
There you have it; even though we don’t know what it is, there is a “growing consensus” that it “must be accomplished.”
Much has been written in academic terms about the meaning of sustainable development and the need to integrate ecological and economic principles into personal and public decision-making….
However, there is no agreed definition of the concept and perhaps there is no need for one…. Thus, sustainable development is an “emerging concept” in two ways, first, because it is relatively new and evolves as we learn to grasp its wide implications for all aspects of our lives, and, second, because its meanings emerge and evolve according to local contexts.
In other words, “sustainable development” is a despot’s dream-come-true: an emerging all-purpose, open-ended, “enabling act” granting global central planners carte blanche to claim it means whatever they want it to mean.
Think Globally, Act Locally
For the past several decades, environmental activists have embraced the mantra, “Think globally, act locally.” And they have been implementing it with religious fervor — along with bountiful assistance, of course, from the United Nations and a multitude of UN-affiliated institutions, U.S. government agencies, NGOs, and tax-exempt foundations. ICLEI, which has helped initiate UN programs in hundreds of U.S. communities, works closely with UN agencies such as UNESCO, UNEP, WHO, UNFCCC, IPCC, IMF, and the World Bank, as well as the U.S. State Department, Department of Energy, EPA, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund, World Economic Forum, Club of Rome, Rockefeller Foundation, the European Union, and other similar entities. It also receives millions of dollars of funding from many of these same entities, thus enabling it to organize formidable “local” coalitions that often can overwhelm genuine local grass-roots opposition to UN-spawned programs.
However, the correlation of forces in this ongoing struggle may be turning in favor of freedom — though not a moment too soon. When this reporter returned from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and began a national tour with my book Global Tyranny, Step by Step … The United Nations and the Emerging New World Order, far too few people were ready for the message. Even sympathetic radio talk-show hosts found it difficult to believe that the UN’s treaties on climate change and biodiversity, or Agenda 21, could be as serious a threat to America’s sovereignty, prosperity, and freedom as I alleged. Few could appreciate how these documents and programs crafted in some far-off United Nations conference could ever concretely impact them in their state, town, or neighborhood. That has changed dramatically, as the huge financial costs and oppressive regimentation associated with global-warming legislation, sustainable development programs, and local Agenda 21 projects have skyrocketed.
Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center and a leading expert on Agenda 21 and sustainable development, says there “is definitely a major awakening underway.” “These UN stealth programs got by unnoticed and unopposed for many years, but no longer,” he told The New American. “Patriots in communities all across the country are getting wise to the UN programs and are fighting back. Many of the Tea Party activists have awakened to these issues. Our phones have been literally ringing off the hooks with requests for information and speakers to help in local battles against Agenda 21 and sustainable development. 2011 is going to be a very critical year, and I’m encouraged; our side is going to make some major advances on these battlefronts.”
“The growing awareness of the dangers posed by UN programs such as Agenda 21, sustainable development, and the global-warming treaties, is, fortunately causing many Americans to look more critically at the United Nations itself,” John F. McManus, president of The John Birch Society, told The New American. “These are tentacles, but the UN is the octopus controlling the tentacles. And it is our government that is feeding the UN octopus with our tax dollars, which the UN funnels, through a myriad of fronts, into these efforts aimed at destroying our freedoms and empowering the UN as a global government. It’s becoming more obvious each day that The John Birch Society’s half-century campaign to ‘Get US out of the United Nations — and Get the UN out of the US’ — is right on the mark. This should be a major effort of the new 112th Congress.”