Vote 'No' on Referred Question No. 1 | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vote 'No' on Referred Question No. 1

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2008 at 2:58 PM

No, I'm not talking about the anti-adoption initiated act. But vote No on Initiated Act 1, too.

This is about the referred act to give the appointed Arkansas "Natural Resources" Commission authority to issue up to $300 million in bonds for water projects. The bonds would be backed by state general revenues if user fees aren't sufficient to repay them, just one of the reasons the Arkansas Wildlife Federation announced its opposition today.

The Wildlife Federation is more concerned about the appointed commission's power, as T. David Carruth put it, "to take private and public land and water resources by force." The Commission, which has served as a  toady for agricultural interests down through the years, could even exert dominion over the Little Rock water supply lake and ship it anywhere it chose, the Federation contends. The law would strengthen the appointed commission's ability to condemn land for its aims. The "Natural Resources" people represent that these bonds are about local drinking water projects. But the Wildlife Federation argues that "the lion's share of the money is going to a handful of irrigation projects and is being put to uses of which the Arkansas taxpayers were never informed nor could they have imagined."

Legislators tell me they tried to put a curb on the commision's manifest irrigation destiny in enabling legislation. But the commission's record doesn't inspire confidence. The Wildlife Federation has compiled a long list of questionable spending of Natural Resources money on lobbying, travel and media expenes. The Federation belives the commission will use the new money to further subsidize the White River and other irrigation projects it opposes on ground that they'll be damaging to wildlife.

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