El Dorado County folks riled by U.N. agenda for sustainable growth
Carlos Alcalá, sacbee, May 24, 2012The United Nations is haunting El Dorado County. Critics of a 20-year-old U.N. document called Agenda 21 are becoming more vocal, blaming it for any number of ills in the county.
Agenda 21 came out of a United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It recommends a framework for nations to develop and grow sustainably – that is, with minimum damage to the environment.
Although it was accepted by presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, it carries no force of law here.
According to local critics, however, Agenda 21 is environmental extremism responsible for U.S. Forest Service road closures, onerous regulations on family farms, high-density low-income housing projects, a ban on dredge mining, a Highway 50 wildlife crossing, unemployment and maybe even traffic roundabouts.
Those issues resonate with many of El Dorado County's 180,000 residents. The county has growing suburbs near its border with Sacramento County, but is largely rural, and largely federal forestland, as it climbs the Sierra to Lake Tahoe.
The issue has become so heated that the Mountain Democat newspaper in Placerville is publishing a four-part series on Agenda 21. The headline to kick off the series dubbed the U.N. measure "Central Planning on Steroids."
"It mixes environmentalism and socialism," said Kathleen Newell, one of 14 people who spoke against Agenda 21 at an El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting May 15. An anti-Agenda 21 resolution was on the calendar for that day, but was tabled.
Three supervisor candidates – George Turnboo, Sue Taylor and Ron Mikulaco – attended the meeting to condemn Agenda 21.
Supervisor John Knight, who placed the resolution on the calendar, said in an interview that he wasn't sure he fully understood Agenda 21. But he said he actually supports the kinds of regional planning critics blame on the U.N. measure....