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Agenda 21 In New Hampshire: State Lawmaker Seeks To Keep Out Sustainability Program

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The battle over Agenda 21, the United Nations' sustainability agenda, moves back to New Hampshire as a Republican state lawmaker has signaled her intent to ban the program from the state.

State Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack) has filed legislation to ban implementation of Agenda 21 in the state, along with prohibiting local governments from receiving funding from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, an international group seeking to promote Agenda 21. Peterson's legislation is similar to a state bill to ban Agenda 21 that passed the state House earlier this year before failing in the Senate.

"It's an important topic," Peterson told HuffPost. "Agenda 21 is a dangerous program to get into. It looks cushy because of the special funding. They take over and citizens lose their rights."

Agenda 21 was adopted by the U.N. during the 1992 climate change summit in Brazil and has become a favorite target for conservatives and the Tea Party, who have said the document, which promotes land use planning and walkable communities, will eliminate personal property rights. Agenda 21, which has been backed by both Republican and Democratic presidents, does not contain the force of law in the United States.

Peterson told HuffPost that concerns over the future of private property rights in New Hampshire are the main reason behind her introduction of the bill for the 2013 legislative session. She said that ICLEI has been working with Granite State Future, a coalition of the state's regional planning commissions, to end private property rights in the state.

"They entice people by making you think things are simple," Peterson said. "You don't have land to maintain. They move more people into the center of towns. The outside of the city limits will be land under the control of Granite State Future."

Peterson said that while Agenda 21 is not law in the U.S., she said research conducted by the John Birch Society shows it is being implemented in the U.S.

The organizers behind Granite State Future say their program is just the name of a study by the state's regional planning commissions and not an ICLEI-funded plan. Kerrie Diers, the executive director of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, told HuffPost that the state's nine commissions teamed up to receive federal funds for the regular regional plans required under state law. She said there are no "preconceived notions" for the study.

"It is not a movement, it is just a name," Diers said.

Agenda 21 opponents have been active nationally in trying to attack the program at the state level, with several states passing non-binding resolutions in opposition to the measure. Republican lawmakers in Arizona rejected an outright ban this year.

This month, Georgia state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) was criticized by progressive groups for organizing a four-hour-long seminar on Agenda 21 for Republican senators in October. The seminar included a birther activist who claimed that President Barack Obama and the U.N. are using "mind-control" to implement the plan. The Georgia presentation also included comparisons of Obama's rural agenda to the genocide programs of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese leader Mao Zedong. Rogers has since distanced himself from the comments, saying he did not know the content of the lecture.

Peterson said that with a Democratic majority in the state House, she does not see her bill passing. In the end, she said, she's trying to educate state residents.

"People need to know it is out there, they need to educate themselves," she said. "They are slowly getting their grip on little towns around the country. Towns have to take a stand and say they don't want this garbage."

Democrats have largely been critical of the anti-Agenda 21 efforts, with New Hampshire state Rep. Christopher Serlin (D-Portsmouth) telling HuffPost earlier this year that the issue was "real tinfoil-hat material."

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