Pombo targets his book at a conservative audience, citing a biblical defense of property rights, reminding readers that the Founders explicitly protected property in the Constitution, and offering occasional (if somewhat superficial) attacks on central planning. He describes how wetlands have been transformed in the public mind and the public law from swamps that breed disease-bearing critters to altars at the environmental church. And he explores the growing "eco-federal"coalition of environmental advocacy groups, government regulatory agencies, and congressional appropriators.
. . . By consistently portraying environmentalists as antagonists, Pombo should have no problem convincing an audience that may agree with him anyway. And by selecting as his co-author Joseph Farah, who worked with Rush Limbaugh on his second book, See, I Told You So, he has found a collaborator well-suited to appeal to readers who are politically engaged but aren't policy wonks.
But there's a troubling blind spot in this book. The explosive growth in the population of the West could never have happened without the massive government water projects that were started during the New Deal. Unlike the eastern United States, where water was plentiful and land scarce, in the West land was cheap and water dear. As DeLong explains in Property Matters, the Homestead Act of 1866 gave away 160-acre parcels of land to anyone who would stake a claim: East of the 100th Meridian, where 40 or more inches of rain fall every year, 160 acres of farm land would easily support a family. In the rain-deprived areas west of the 100th, however, such plots were worthless--unless they were located along a river or lake. Harnessing Western rivers made large- scale agriculture possible and helped support the migration of people from the East and the South. . . . Pombo's book doesn't mention the thorny problems caused by socialized water, a curious oversight, since his Central Valley congressional district would certainly be less populous and less prosperous without it.
From Publishers Weekly
The authors unreel a horror tale of property owners whose lives and livelihoods were ruined when environmentalists invoked the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect the habitats of birds, flies or shellfish; of zoning laws that force people to become loggers against their will; of preservationists who get private land designated as historic sites and thereby, according to the authors, violate home owners' rights. California Congressman Pombo, chairman of the task force dedicated to overhauling the ESA, and former Sacramento Union editor-in-chief Farah advocate reform of the ESA so that property owners will be compensated monetarily when the value of their lands is diminished. Documenting cases of landowners who were financially ruined after being held liable for the restoration of wetlands under the Clean Water Act, they cite a 1994 Department of Interior report concluding that the federal government is the biggest polluter and destroyer of the nation's wetlands. This feisty, forceful manifesto profiles a grassroots property rights movement that seeks to protect citizens against what it sees as an arbitrary, land-hungry government?a movement that in some states is pushing for a return of public lands to local control.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.