Senators Take Aim At Decades Old U.N. Measure

Feb 5, 2014

A United Nations sustainability measure known as Agenda 21 has been targeted again by the lawmakers in Frankfort.

Wednesday the Senate State and Local Government Committee approved Senate Bill 31, which prohibits any state agency from implementing recommendations contained in the 300-page action plan produced in 1992.

SB31 advocate Garth Kuhnhein told the committee plans such as Lexington’s push to make downtown more pedestrian friendly are part of larger effort to discourage automotive use, drive up the costs for industries considered unsustainable, and infringe on individual property rights.

"Sustainable development, smart growth... How can you not be for that? It sounds so good. It's saving the children, when we all want to do that. But the impacts are real. The costs are real. These costs make the American dream in many ways unaffordable," Kuhnhein told the panel.

Critics have pointed out that Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntary action plan that was endorsed by then-president George H.W. Bush. Art Williams, executive director of the Kentucky Conservation Committee, spoke against the bill during the 2013 session, calling it a “solution looking for a problem.”

Opponents also worry that the bill would threaten legal efforts by city and state agencies looking to implement green initiatives, which could be labeled Agenda 21 projects by opponents.

The U.N. plan has drawn a great deal of conservative fire, particularly among Tea Party groups, and featured prominently in radio host Glenn Beck’s dystopian novel of the same name.

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