Harry Reid’s New Energy Bill is a Property Rights Disaster

The hits keep coming from Harry Reid. His new energy bill, the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010 (S. 3663), is a property rights disaster in the making. The act would provide a perpetual, and wholly unnecessary, source of funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund, which is used to pay for government land grabs. Currently, the $900 million allocated to the fund yearly must be appropriated by Congress. If Reid gets his way, “amounts shall be made available from the fund without further appropriation.”

Without Congressional expenditure approval, Reid’s bill would leave the door wide open for further spending abuse, something that happens often within the federal government. The Heritage Foundation notes,

“Reid’s bill would fill the fund with a minimum of just under $5 billion through fiscal year 2016. Spending these funds would no longer require congressional approval. Between fiscal year (FY) 2017 and FY 2020, all LWCF funding—without fiscal year limitation—would be subject to appropriations. For FY 2021 and beyond, the LWCF pot would be filled with a minimum of a half billon annually and, again, evade congressional approval.”

Allowing federal agencies to spend more without oversight, smacks in the face the promise of transparency and accountability made by the Administration. Moreover, at a time when the budget deficit and national debt are gargantuan, increasing spending—especially on property expropriation—makes no sense. With estimated $9.6 billion maintenance backlog, further spending will only burden the National Park Service, and more importantly—the taxpayers.

The negative implications on property rights are enormous. By increasing the likelihood of federal abuses, this bill further enables the government’s addiction to property rights infringement.

The government already owns over 650 million acres of land. Buying more would prevent private individuals from developing new businesses, effectively stopping jobs from being created. That’s especially troubling since over 5 million acres of the U.S. are classified as vacant. The land is literally sitting there not benefiting anyone.

The bill is expected to come up for a cloture vote tomorrow. Please call your senators and urge them to vote against the bill. To see PRA’s letter opposing S. 3663, click here.