By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Republicans are calling for the rejection of a United Nations agenda on the environment and poverty, even though Democrats say their actions are silly and amount to fear-mongering.
The resolution, which “recognizes the destructive and insidious nature of United Nations Agenda 21,” was approved 72-23 in the House on Thursday. The agenda came out of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 following discussions on “sustainable development.”
Rep. Kevin Brooks of Cleveland said the resolution is similar to one that the national GOP passed and “encouraged all their state Republican parties to follow suit.”
Republicans said the agenda is a veiled attempt to take away property rights.
Brooks said the nearly 300-page document contains catch phrases such as “sustainable development,” which Brooks says actually means that someone could “come in and take your land, take your business and disrupt your life; that’s the insidious part of it.”
“We’re all about conservation, we’re all about protecting the environment,” he told reporters after the House session. “We’re not about losing our liberty.”
During a lengthy debate on the House floor, Rep. Rick Womick called Agenda 21 “a step-by-step methodical process that denies United States citizens their property rights.”
The Murfreesboro Republican said supporters of the agenda are working with local governments in Tennessee to try to impose the United Nations aims.
Womick said examples include a proposal in Cocke County to halt construction on land more than 1,500 feet above sea level and the city of Murfreesboro’s attempts to require a local hot sauce merchant to re-paint his business and pave his parking lot.
“This is what we’re talking about: aesthetics, government overreach, overstepping — this is Agenda 21,” he said. “And what we’re saying in this resolution is: No, you cannot come in our country, in our backyard, on our property and tell us what we can and cannot do with our private property.”
Democrats ridiculed the Republican resolution and said the GOP is causing unnecessary fear.
Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said he can’t see the United Nations imposing anything and marveled at Womick’s comments, saying he read nothing in the United Nations text about replacing a gravel parking lot with blacktop.
“I’d like to be Womick for just an hour just to see how he sees the world, I just can’t imagine that,” Turner later told reporters.
Read HJR587 at http://capitol.tn.gov .