John Birch Society speaks out against UN Agenda 21
Thomaston — Agenda 21 — a United Nations plan to promote sustainable development — is a threat to sovereignty, endangers private property rights and puts protecting wildlife ahead of development, said speakers at the June 21 meeting of the John Birch Society.
Wendy Pelletier of Washington, Ted Cowan of Rockland and Donald Folkers of Newcastle discussed impacts to Maine from the global implementation of Agenda 21.
Gateway 1, a regional planning effort for coastal communities, was a topic of concern and used as a local example.
"Gateway 1 is something specific to Midcoast Maine but it's just another copy of the same blueprint used across the country," said Cowan.
Cowan said land use regulations Gateway 1 proposes are so radical the population would never accept it. "It's a complete change of life," Cowan said. He added that the implementation of Gateway 1 will go through in a piecemeal process over 30 years. "The main philosophy is to move people out of rural areas and into the urban areas," he said.
He told meeting attendees it was clear Gateway 1 is not for Route 1 improvements; the purpose was to get local towns to pass zoning changes that are compatible with sustainable development and the Agenda 21 program. Gov. Paul LePage canceled the Gateway 1 project in 2011.
Cowan said Gateway 1 is passed off as local people trying to get together to coordinate development and improve transportation along Route 1. He said the proposal came from the federal government and originated with implementing Agenda 21 protocols.
Cowan criticized research that suggested Gateway 1 was necessary. According to Cowan, research stated Maine's population and growth over the last 20 years would turn Maine into Newark, N.J., or Saugus, Mass.
"Given the current situation of economic collapse and the price of oil going up and the cost of living, Maine is experiencing a population reduction, which is just getting started. There is going to be a mass exodus of the state of Maine because they can't afford to live here and heat their homes," he said.
"The entire premise Gateway 1 research is based upon is provably false," he said.
Cowan said he has done a lot of research tracing the evolution of Gateway 1 from ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) down through executive orders to the Maine planning association, Grow Smart Maine to individual groups in Maine.
He said core growth areas with zoning regulations to have schools, business and residential units in concentrated areas within walking distance is to force people to stop driving vehicles. "Bike paths, footpaths, and public transportation is to get rid of the cars," Cowan said.
Other parts of Agenda 21 were discussed, including agriculture and wildlife space. "One of the things Agenda 21 claims is unsustainable and must be stopped is farming. Look it up, you can see it, I'm not making this up," said Cowan.
He also spoke of the Wildlands Project. "This is such a crazy idea that originated in California 30 years ago," he said. Cowan said the vision for the project included corridors for wildlife so "they could once again take dominance of the land and humans would be sequestered in human occupation zones. Most of the country would be for the animals and the wildlife and the corridors for them to roam all over the country and we would be restricted to certain areas. Now that's insane."
Donald Folkers of the Maine Constitution Party and Midcoast section leader of the John Birch Society, spoke primarily about activism.
"We're talking about real life issues that affect every single person in this room," he said.
Folkers said he grew up with freedoms but that freedoms are being encroached upon today by elitists. "The John Birch society is determined to fix that," he said, adding that the organization treats liberals, conservatives and everything in between with respect for personal opinions.
"We're on the edge of an abyss and it's not that we got there by accident. It's not just bad luck," said Folkers.
Internationally, there are no known groups similar to John Birch Society condemning the United Nations or Agenda 21. The United Nations has 193 member states. To this, Folkers said, "People look to the United States for leadership because we have created this constitutional republic. They come here to learn from the John Birch Society." Folkers added the JBS has friends in Canada and some Baltic states that were once under Soviet rule. "I went to Canada with the president of the John Birch Society and we were objecting to the merger of the U.S., Canada and Mexico in 2007 and conducted a press conference and we found there were individuals who sided with us."
Agenda 21 is not solely designed to implement sustainable development. One man attending the meeting said when he read Agenda 21, he noticed developed countries transfer wealth to developing states; in fact, he said "bringing the U.S. to their level and bringing them up to where we're all on the same plane, which, I don't believe is good."
To this, Cowan said Agenda 21 is one aspect of a multi-pronged effort to implement a one world government.
Lief Parsell, the state coordinator for the JBS, said he believes in some zoning. "The John Birch Society and I might disagree," Parsell said. "I don't necessarily have a problem with certain zoning. I'm from rural Maine and I would like it to stay rural Maine."
Parsell said the JBS is primarily concerned with land use decisions remaining local in reference to Agenda 21.
"If you adhere to the Constitution, most of this goes away," said Cowan.
For more information, visit jbs.org and www.un.org/en.
Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or by email at Jlaaka@courierpublicationllc.com.