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Pombo is doing something right

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Extreme environmental groups do not like him.The liberal editorial page of The New York Times has attacked him.

And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made him a high-profile target in the 2006 congressional elections.

Wow! Who is this guy? He must be doing something right.

The left wing is all hot and bothered over Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, chairman of the House Resources Committee, due to his effectiveness and a lack of willingness to pander to liberal pet causes.

This, of course, is downright infuriating to some. The New York Times editorial page Oct. 30 screamed that Pombo “is philosophically an outspoken product of the extreme property rights movement.” The editorial also referred to “a man of Mr. Pombo’s radical turn of mind.”

The big stink on the left is that Pombo actually values private property rights, and wants to remove government restrictions to greater domestic energy exploration and development, such as in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. They also do not like that Pombo wants to reel in widespread property rights abuses that been committed under the Endangered Species Act.

Imagine the nerve — an elected official willing to protect property, and do something constructive about the nation’s energy needs. Consider the June 23, Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London, which allowed government condemnation for so-called economic development purposes, including letting government take property from one private entity in order to hand it over to another private entity.

Pombo has correctly declared: “The court set a precedent that will haunt the American people for decades to come.

Invoking eminent domain should be an extremely rare occurrence in this country and for a very clearly defined public use.”

On Nov. 3, 376 fellow members of the House joined Pombo in passing the Private Property Rights Protection Act, including well-known, left-wing environmental extremist Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles. The bill prohibits the federal government from exercising its eminent domain powers for economic development purposes and does the same for states and localities receiving federal funds.

Or how about the House Resources Committee approving a budget reconciliation package Oct. 26 that would have boosted energy supplies from ANWR and given states control of energy production in adjacent federal waters?

Pombo noted: “Americans want Congress to cut the deficit. They also want more domestic energy production to help lower home heating bills and prices at the pump. This package is going to give them both. By requiring more American-made energy, we can also create new jobs and grow our economy. In today’s global energy market, with skyrocketing prices, it would be irresponsible to continue restricting domestic energy production.”

By the way, the National Organization of Counties and the Teamsters Union and the vast majority of Alaskans — all presumably members of the radical right — also support opening ANWR. In reality, of course, common sense dictates that the U.S. should become more energy independent where possible by using the vast natural resources we have been blessed with — particularly given our technological know-how to develop in an environmentally sound manner.

Finally, in late September, the House passed legislation — the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005 — that was introduced by Pombo and Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced. The measure would update and modernize the Endangered Species Act, which, despite good intentions, has failed in terms of recovering endangered species, while creating conflict and litigation for localities and property owners.

Pombo wisely observed: “During debate, the entire House of Representatives seemed to agree the ESA is in need of updates and improvements. It’s incredible how far we have come. But what surprised me most today was the strong ideological differences about whether or not homeowners should be compensated when their property is taken, as the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution requires. Upholding this right and partnering with the landowner is the only way we are going to improve the ESA’s failing results for recovery.”

Are these the positions of a man with “a radical turn of mind”? I don’t think so. Instead, it looks more like the work of an elected official who actually seems to believe that government should respect and protect, rather than abuse, private property.

• Raymond Keating serves as chief economist for the Washington, D.C.-based Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. His e-mail is RKeat614@aol.com.




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