The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

April 2, 2013

Oklahoma panel won't hear bill banning Agenda 21 plan

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma Senate panel won't hear a bill that would have prohibited state organizations from following suggestions from a United Nations plan that helps cities and countries become more environmentally sustainable.

Republican Sen. Cliff Branan, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, told The Associated Press late Tuesday afternoon that he'd decided not to hear the measure at the panel's Thursday meeting, likely killing it for this year's legislative session.

Branan said the bill is based on a "fringe conspiracy" that the U.N. wants to use its Agenda 21 plan to encroach on the private property rights of Americans.

"I check each bill one at a time, and that was really more of a solution to a problem that doesn't exist at all," he told the AP in a phone interview. "It's a fringe conspiracy-type issue that's frankly bad public policy."

Agenda 21 was the product of a 1992 U.N. conference in Brazil that aimed to encourage environmentally friendly and sustainable practices around the world. It includes suggestions from the international level down to cities and towns. Many conservatives have latched onto those local provisions, seeing them as a U.N. attempt to influence American affairs.

The bill, first introduced by Oklahoma City Rep. Sally Kern, would have prohibited towns or counties from implementing any part of the nonbinding, voluntary plan. It also would have restricted the state or any subdivisions from working with U.N.-affiliated groups. The bill passed the House 67-17.

Branan's decision not to hear the measure follows a recent surge in conservative support for the bill. Branan says his office has received hundreds of emails and calls "every 15 seconds" in recent days in support of the bill.

"It's been really crazy," he said. "My (executive assistant) is just getting carpal tunnel from picking up the phone all day."

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