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Illinois Conservative Politics

MORRISON: SUVs come in green
Tuesday, April 22, 2003

The Evangelical Environmental Network recently asked Christians to take the WWJD Pledge, which said in part, "Confessing Jesus Christ to be my Savior and Lord, including Lord of my transportation choices, I pledge [to] organize my life so it is easier and more desirable to walk, bike, car pool, and use public transportation."
Remember when the environmentalists tried to get churches to buy into the propaganda, "What Would Jesus Drive?"

This was meant to shame Christians about driving a gas guzzling SUV. Well, if Jesus were part of the The Nature Conservancy (TNC), He would drive a Suburban given to Him by General Motors.

With the TNC having only $3 billion in assets, GM has determined them worthy as a "charitable organization" to qualify for 160 vehicles nationwide. GM’s 10 year commitment to TNC will soon reach nearly $23 million, according to Autoworld.

If TNC is one of those green environmental groups that finds the SUV offensive, I’ll certainly do my part to help with my offer to take one of those Suburbans off their hands.

Seemingly, the rich get richer. TNC owns approximately 13 million acres in the 50 states and 28 countries. It purchases huge tracts of land so fast it is difficult to keep up with an acre count. In the U.S. it is closely partnered to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and other government agencies.

TNC's Chief Executive Officer Steven McCormick wants to "transform the already vast charity into the most influential nonprofit on the planet." (www.chiefexecutive.net/depts/management/184.htm)

TNC is the largest conservation organization and is the favorite charity and partner of corporations.

TNC is not only popular with the corporations, the government is extremely partial to these "global movers and shakers." The Senate caved in and passed S.476, the CARE Act, which began as a faith-based initiative. The vote was a shameful 95-5 in favor of the bill. American Policy Center says it closely resembles a radical green wish list.

Churches, orphanages, private schools and the like won’t qualify for the 25% tax break in Sections 106 and 107 of S.476. But multibillion dollar land trusts like TNC and other radical green groups will get an unfair tax advantage.

Sales of land and water rights are singled out in these sections, and sellers will receive a 25% capital gains tax break if they sell to an environmental group, land trust, or government agency.

With this kind of tax break, if you had land to sell, would you sell it to a chairitable organization or land trust?

Although the House of Representatives has not come up with their version of the bill, word is the Republican House leadership is not in favor of giving the greens this unfair tax break in S.476.

The charitable organizations that most of us are familiar with depend on their resources coming through the efforts of volunteers. If a tax break is in order, shouldn’t it be given to these organizations first?

"The earth is not my mother, it is a creation of my Father" is a bumper sticker created by Beverly Merritt, who is affiliated with Paragon Powerhouse in New Mexico.

As we delve into the resources behind the groups who feel "Mother Earth" is a religion and should qualify as a charity, we need to check Romans 1:25, which tells of a time when man would worship the creation instead of the creator. ["These people have exchanged God's truth for a lie. So they have become ungodly and serve what is created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever."] Is this the time?

The Suburban GM donated to TNC of Texas was featured at the Dallas Convention Center in March. "Up until now we have been using our personal vehicles to cover this vast region, so we’re delighted to have this four-wheel-drive vehicle," said Ecoregional Manager Jim Eidson, who is based in North Texas.

Surprisingly, Texas is the only state that requires TNC to pay taxes, because it did not comply with not-for-profit requirements. TNC is exempt in every other state, although they own billions in assets.

Maybe Illinois could check into this source for revenue to help balance our budget from the currently tax-exempt acres TNC has in Illinois.

The TNC environmental group wants to bring back the "lakes, marshes and forests that once thrived in this area, reconnecting them to the Illinois River which is now barricaded from the land by a 20 foot tall levee," reports the Wildlife Management Interactive organization.

It also reports that the 7600 acre swath of manicured farmland that the scientists eyed from their perch is a common example of how the modern world has transformed the Illinois and other large flood-plain rivers.

The Illinois River used to boast 400,000 acres of flood plain - vast stretches of land that absorbed rising waters and spread them wide. It was a thriving system that diffused the river when it swelled too big and rejunvenated the land that had grown dry in its absence.

Whatever happened to common sense? Scientists eye 7600 acres of manicured farmland and think it is not good? Hundreds of farms are protected by that 20 foot levee helping to provide the safest, cheapest food of any nation. They are located near barge facilities along the river. This location keeps transportation costs lower than any other mode of transporting grain benefiting the consumer.

Does it sound more reasonable to create a swamp where West Nile Virus can become rampant from the breeding ground of the mosquitos or to farm this rich farming ground? How many chemicals will be released in the air to keep those little West Nile Virus mosquitos under control? When we get hungry, will they make food for your family?

Along with help from government funding, the project was aided by a $625,000 grant from Caterpiller to TNC in support of its work along the Illinois River, which was the largest grant ever given by Caterpiller.

McCormick, CEO of TNC, was reported to have ordered managers to kill projects lacking global significance and "to redirect funds to projects yielding more return for the same money and to work across political boundaries."

It would appear his plans have been successful. Space will not permit all the recent acquisitions by TNC, but following is a short list. Every state has tracts of land owned by TNC, and much of it is at the expense of the taxpayer.


1. Florida: TNC is asking Congress for $10 million in 2004 to conserve some of the Florida Keys. Most every year TNC targets federal money for Keys land purchases. (www.keysnews.com)

2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: The 229,000 acre Big Island Park will increase

in size by 50%. Congress approved $8.5 million appropriation toward the purchase of Kahuku Ranch. About $16 million is earmarked for the project. As a public private partnership, TNC has agreed to provide enough funds to complete the acquisition. The nonprofit group would then be reimbursed by the federal government, likely in next year's budget. (www.hilohawaiitribune.com)

3. California: The Big Sur Land Trust and TNC bought the Palo Corona Ranch for

$37 million last May from Seattle telecommunications tycoon Craig McCaw. A week later, Gov. Gray Davis announced that the state would commit $32 million toward buying the property from the two nonprofit groups. The Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District is putting up the other $5 million. (www.montereyharold.com)

4. Tennessee: 11,800 acres near Fort Pillow State Park. TNC bought the land last

year and agreed to hold it until Tennessee Wildlife Regional Authority had enough money to buy it.

It purchased approximately 6,327 acres last spring for $9 million. The state obtained a $4.5 million Forest Legacy grant and combined that with a $1 million grant from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), along with smaller grants from other organizations and money from the state's Wetlands Acquisition Fund and the state's Lands Acquisition Fund.

This year, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is receiving a second Forest Legacy grant of $3.5 million and another $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant. With those grants, additional assistance from NAWCA and TNC, and about $1.7 million from the state's Wetlands Acquisition Fund, TWRA will spend about $6.4 million to acquire the remaining 5,458.66 acres. (www.news.mywebpals.com)

Almost every state in the nation is crying, "We’re broke!" If they are so broke, why are there millions and millions of dollars appropriated and grants awarded for land acquisitions, parks, green spaces, conservation projects - all while these same states are neglecting the property they already own?

Is this really about land preservation or big business? Once these groups buy the land, tie it up in conservation easements, or sell it to the government, who will wind up owning the land in the United States? It sure doesn’t look like it will be in the hands of private owners to live the American dream.

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