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RHODEMAP-RI DEM FORUM TONIGHT: ‘Make Believe’ Economics Behind State’s Farmland Acquisition Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 7, 2016
State Farmland-Grab Program Lacks Economic Basis

Could lead to reduced farmland values across the state

Providence, RI — The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity will officially object the RI DEM proposed rules – that will allow the government’s environmental agency to acquire private farmland and resell it at a loss to others who will obey the state’s agenda – when its CEO speaks tonight at a public comment forum at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography.

With multiple concerns about property rights and local governmental sovereignty being infringed upon by this state program that was designed to advance a federal agenda, the Center’s comments, to be delivered by Mike Stenhouse, will focus on the economic non-sustainability of the proposed program, at the 5:30pm DEM meeting.

With government increasingly influencing and controlling the means of production through myriad tax-credit, loan, and direct subsidy schemes in a multitude of industries, this DEM farmland acquisition scheme, which will actually acquire and resell private property, is not based on any legitimate economic analysis – or any economic consideration at all – that the Center is aware of. Despite the fact that the state’s own Commerce Corporate demanded a ‘RhodeMapRI’ mandate be inserted into the DEM plan, no economic justification was provided.

“If the state of Rhode Island is truly concerned about preserving farmland and agricultural farming, it should develop policies that will make it easier and more profitable for every farmer by reducing excessive taxation and regulatory mandates,” suggested Stenhouse. “There are free-market alternatives that should be considered, as opposed to this obvious lurch towards centralized-planning and further government intervention in the private sector.”

Stenhouse, who earned an Economics degree from Harvard University, will make a number of economic observations as objections to a plan that he will say is based on ‘make believe economics’ and that could lead to adverse consequences for the state’s farmers and taxpayers.

The Center will release a more complete version of its economic analysis tomorrow, following the meeting.

Center supports Representatives’ call for DEM to reschedule ‘redistribution of land’ meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 17, 2016
Center supports Representatives’ call for DEM to reschedule “redistribution of land” workshop
Calls for rigorous public debate on proposed new regulations that could lead to potential ’eminent domain’ abuse.

Providence, RI — As it has forewarned for years about the potential for eminent-domain abuse in its multi-year battle against the RhodeMapRI agenda, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity (Center) applauds the call yesterday by Representative Sherry Roberts for the DEM or the Governor to cancel the DEM workshop planned for this evening to review new “Farmland Acquisition” rules.

“We commend Representative Roberts and her colleague in the House Minority Caucus who took heed of our Center’s alert earlier this week and are taking action to protect farmers,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “It is an unethical ploy that the public meeting to review these new anti-farmer regulations was scheduled at the exact same time when most farmers would be busy participating in the Washington County Fair. This government-by-stealth approach is not an exercise in good government.”

On the heels of a lawsuit filed against the RI Office of the Attorney General to release documents related to its attempts to criminalize political dissent against the President’s radical climate change agenda, the Center supports the Representatives’ call for a halt to this DEM initiative that would also advance the same climate change or sustainable development agenda.

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Brookings Land Acquisition Recommendation

Part of the RhodeMapRI strategy and consistent with the 2016 Brookings Institution plan for Rhode Island, “the DEM agenda apparently seeks to set the regulations for how it can be authorized to seize farmland from its private owners and redistribute it to others who will develop the land the way the government wants,” continued Stenhouse. “This land grab plan is ripe for abuse, and serious questions must be addressed. This process has to be slowed down to allow for a legitimate public debate that includes all interested parties.”

The Center is alarmed that the “State Farmland Acquisition Advisory Council” appears to be transitioning to become a broker of private property. Further, the Center demands that the DEM clarify in detail how it will interpret and implement its vague standard for seizing private property; currently stated as – “a reasonable probability … (of) farmland in danger of converting out of agriculture”. Such statewide authority could be a back-door to eminent domain abuse and could infringe on what would traditionally be local zoning decisions.

Light bulb with realistic fluorescent filament - energy concept (Set)

RI Energy Mandates Will Continue to Harm State Economy, Perpetuates Cronyism

Light bulb with realistic fluorescent filament - energy concept (Set)

MEDIA RELEASE

June 13, 2016

RI Families Once Again Left Out of State Budget

RI Renewable Energy Mandates Create Poor Cost-Benefit Value. Families and businesses to lose again.
Local Wind Developer to Receive Unprecedented Crony Hand-out off Backs of Average Rhode Islander? 

Providence, RI — Investing in state mandates for renewable energy, currently and potentially on the books in Rhode Island, will provide an extremely poor return for Ocean State taxpayers and ratepayers, and may only serve to perpetuate a culture of crony corporatism. This according to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which today released a comprehensive report analyzing the cost-benefit of meeting such mandates in future years.

The report, Renewable Energy in Rhode Island, is based on detailed research by a national energy expert, Dr. Timothy J. Considine. Subtitled Big Cost, Little Difference, the report’s major findings, if Rhode Island were to ramp up its renewable energy production to meet existing mandates, include:

  • Rhode Island has a relatively low carbon footprint, as 98% of its energy generation is based on natural gas production
  • Major investment will be required to achieve a minor abatement in that carbon footprint, if the state is to meet its existing (and potentially increased) renewable energy mandates. This poor cost-benefit ratio is well below EPA recommended standards
  •  An artificial rise of 13-18% in electricity rates, leading six to eight hundred million dollars extracted from the private sector because of government mandated higher energy costs, are some the anticipated consequences of maintaining the state’s dubious energy policies
  • Four to six thousand jobs could be lost overall as a result of these consequences, despite the few hundred ‘green’ jobs created, which will place further downward pressure on the state’s already dismal 48th ranking on the national Jobs and Opportunity Index

The report also details a number of bills, whose fate is yet to be decided in this legislative session, that would advance or extend renewable energy mandates, potentially exacerbating the negative economic impacts cited in the report.

Additionally, of relevant concern to the ongoing controversy of legislative grants and cronyism in the state, is an Article 18 provision in the proposed 2017 budget, that would give millions of dollars in subsidies to an insider wind energy developer who has made significant campaign donations to state political leaders. The Providence Journal today published an article on this potential ‘pay-to-play’ scandal, which National Grid claims would make Rhode Island the only state in the nation to hand-out subsidies of this nature

“Our state’s self-destructive energy policies represent an extraordinarily poor value for ratepayers, taxpayers and for our state’s economy,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “To make matters worse, like so many other big-government programs, insider developers are poised to profit off the backs of the average family and small business owner.”

Written Testimony submitted by CEO Stenhouse to Senate Committee on Finance and House Committee on Finance

Center Receives Farm Bureau Award For Anti-RhodeMap RI Work

Center Feted for Raising Awareness about
HUD & Federal Intrusion

November 19, 2015, Alpine Country Club in Cranston, RI

The RI Center for Freedom for Prosperity Accepts the RI Farm Bureau’s 2015 Navigator Award

The award recognized the Center “for being the faithful and undaunting watchdog and protector of freedom and prosperity granted to all Rhode Islanders,” in raising awareness about the federal HUD agenda implemented in RI called RhodeMap RI, which could threaten the property rights and values of farmers throughout the state, as well as other private property owners.

In accepting the award on behalf of the Center’s board and staff, CEO Mike Stenhouse thanked the Bureau for standing with other concerned citizens against the intrusive federal power and land grab by HUD. Stenhouse drew parallels to a topic raised earlier in the evening by a speaker from the American Farm Bureau, about how the federal EPA has similarly been seeking to control more and more local land through its controversial, so-called Clean Water Act, which would further restrict land use for many farmers.

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Stenhouse added that private property ownership and rights to develop land are fundamental precepts of America’s free-enterprise system, and that the Center would continue to fight against federal and state mandates that would restrict those freedoms.

Also receiving Navigator awards were: Representative Patricia Morgan (R, D26) for her work in fighting proposed tolls, which would directly impact farm trucks; and Senator Susan Sosnowski (D, D38) for her legislative support of farmer’s issues.

The RI Farm Bureau is the voice of thousands of Rhode Island farmers when it comes to dealing with issues that impact the agriculture industry.

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2015 Report Card FAILS to Provide Equal Opportunity for Rhode Islanders

The Center’s 4th annual REPORT CARD demonstrates how RI’s political class continues to cater to special insiders, while depriving other Rhode Islanders of the opportunity for upward mobility, educational opportunity, and personal prosperity.

[button url=”http://rifreedom.org/RIReportCard/” target=”_self” size=”medium” style=”royalblue” ] 2015 Report Card [/button]