Wednesday, March 3, 2010 3:50 pm | By Caitlin Blaney
Republicans in Congress have recently become more vocal against some of the irrational policies of the Obama Administration, and Senator Jim DeMint (R – SC) is no exception. His op-ed appeared in the Washington Times on Tuesday calling for the White House to stop the incessant land-grabs across the nation. Senator DeMint argues that, aside from bringing large areas of land under federal control for no apparent reason, the land-grab actually takes potential jobs out of the market. Much of the land targeted for government takeover holds great oil and natural gas resources which could provide jobs in the energy industry and a flow of resources from our own American supply. Once those lands become “monuments”, access to those natural resources is limited and in the hands of the federal government. The Senator emphasizes the severity of the government land takeover, saying “This is a nationwide problem. The government currently owns 650 million acres, or 29 percent of the nation's total land.”
What’s worse, the government made two attempts to snatch property in 2009 through two separate bills: The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 and The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). The Omnibus bill included over 100 different land grab bills. Though theProperty Rights Alliance and 111 other organizations banded together to send a letter to the House of Representatives expressing extreme displeasure with the Omnibus, the bill was passed in May, 2009. The NREPA had every intention of seizing nearly 24 million acres of land in the American west and northwest, however, NREPA never made it out of the House subcommittee.
The government offers little explanation for the land-grab frenzy, but there are plenty of reasons to oppose it. First and foremost, it is unconstitutional for the government to simply take land from states without compensation. Second, government-controlled land takes away opportunities for development, particularly when it comes to accessing much needed resources. The land designated as “monument” space could have created dozens of employment opportunities – opportunities which will go wasted under the thumb of the federal government.
Senator DeMint sponsored an amendment to stop President Obama from turning the designated lands into “monuments”, but it was shot down in the Senate 58-38.
The ability of the White House to simply snatch land from under the feet of the American people comes from the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Act was initially intended to set aside small portions of land for monuments and national parks, but has since been abused by lawmakers to control large quantities of property.