Author: Local officials can repel federal decrees


Property-rights advocate says landowners should use coordination


Capital Press

ANDERSON, Calif. -- Landowners should take advantage of local government's power to stave off federal regulations that deprive them of their liberties, a property-rights advocate said.

Cities, counties and local districts can frustrate new wilderness designations and other federal land-use orders by invoking coordination under U.S. and state environmental laws, author Michael Coffman told a logging conference here Feb. 10.

Under coordination, a city council or county commission could appoint a citizens' advisory committee and enact an ordinance opposing a federal rule and the agency would have to involve the local government in its decision, Coffman said.

The coordination process was used to stop a planned highway through Texas that was part of implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, he said.

"Local coordination ... is very, very powerful if it's done correctly," said Coffman, whose book, "Rescuing a Broken America," addresses the environmental movement's role in the nation's cultural divide. "It allows your local government to become part of the process."

Federal law also requires an agency to give "strong consideration" to the economy, the tax base of local government and cultural values when it makes a rule, he said.

Coffman's advice wasn't lost on Les Baugh, chairman of the Shasta County Board of Supervisors. The board has invoked coordination to oppose federal activity in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, where most access to hundreds of miles of roads has been blocked and campgrounds have quietly been shut down.

"We've been following through on it and we will continue to follow through on that," said Baugh, who attended Coffman's speech at the Gaia Hotel and Spa here. "We won't stop."

Coffman's roughly 45-minute presentation, which mostly detailed what he asserts is environmental leaders' mission to abolish property rights worldwide, came during a kickoff breakfast for the 62nd Sierra Cascade Logging Conference.

The former manager for Champion International, who is perhaps best known for helping defeat U.S. ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity in the early 1990s, was also scheduled to speak to numerous community groups and did radio interviews during his weeklong swing through to Northern California.

In an interview with the Capital Press, Coffman said it's important for farmers and ranchers to "find enough like-minded men and women" and encourage local governments to fight on their behalf.

He also praised efforts by growers to help people to get to know them through social media and other tools, noting that many in cities are unaware of how important resource industries are.

"It's absolutely necessary to do that, to show people how important the farmer, rancher and forester are," he said.

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