The Relief Report ®

A newsletter covering regulatory reform efforts in Washington and across America, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 300 Eye St., NE #3, Washington, D C 20002, 202/543/1286, Fax 202/543/4779, E-mail, Web

Issue #56 * July 31, 1997 * David A. Ridenour, Editor


IRS Would Gain Environmental Enforcement Powers Under New Kempthorne Proposal

Breaking a commitment he made to property rights advocates earlier this year, Senator Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID) recently decided against offering a property rights protection bill and instead introduced the Conservation Incentives Act of 1997 (S. 901). Senator Kempthorne argues that S. 901 would "benefit private landowners of critical habitat for endangered species" in three ways: 1) it would offer tax credits to landowners who improve the conservation value of the land; 2) it would offer substantial capital gains tax reductions for property owners who sell their land to conservation organizations; and 3) it would allow deferral of all estate taxes owed on inherited property provided the new owners participate in a habitat management agreement with the government. But there are several catches. For one, to qualify for the tax credits and deferments, property owners would have to make sacrifices for conservation above and beyond those that are already required by law. Current regulatory costs are already enormously costly and unfair. Second, once property owners accept tax credits for nature set asides, it would be virtually impossible for them (or their heirs) to withdraw. Landowners who choose to do so would be liable not only for repayment of any tax credits, but would be assessed penalties and interest. This would make the Internal Revenue Service yet another federal agency charged with enforcing federal environmental dictates. S. 901 isn't an incentive package for property owners, it's an incentive bill for those who want to be ex-property owners.

Victims' Corner: Paid Informant Frames Small Business

On August 23, 1991, 18 EPA agents burst into the offices of Higman Sand and Gravel with guns drawn. After 53 years in business and a spotless record, the owners of the Akron, Iowa-based small business were surprised by the raid to say the least. What precipitated such a response? A paid informant had alerted the EPA that Higman was illegally storing hazardous waste. After searching the premises, the EPA agents did find a small quantity of paint thinner dumped on the property. That was enough for the EPA to file charges and send the case to a federal court in Sioux City. But during the course of the trial, it was discovered that the EPA's paid informant had planted the paint thinner on Higman Sand and Gravel property. Had Higman Sand and Gravel been convicted on the charges, the informant stood to profit handsomely: He was promised $24,000 on top of the $2,000 he had already received for tipping the EPA off. Who says that the EPA doesn't know how incentives work? If you have a regulatory victim story you would like included in The National Center for Public Policy Research's forthcoming 1997 National Directory of Environmental and Regulatory Victims, contact Chad Cowan @ (202) 507-6398 or

Fool Me Once, Shame on You....

Ross Gelbspan, an outspoken advocate of the global warming theory who frequently questions the honesty of those on the other side of the global warming debate, appears to have a credibility problem of his own to worry about. According to EPA Watch, Gelbspan claims to be a "Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist" even though he never received one. As the public reads Gelbspan's work on global warming, it would be well-advised to remember the old adage: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. For more, contact Bonner Cohen of EPA Watch @ 202/739-0179.


New Releases from The National Center for Public Policy Research


Talking Points Cards

Talking Points cards are concise, media-friendly, pocket-sized cards covering environmental issues ranging from global warming to Superfund to wetlands issues. Just-released editions include:

"Myths and Facts About Global Warming." Card debunks common myths about global warming.

"Why Global Warming Might be Good." Card outlines benefits of global warming, including its positive impact on global water supplies.

"EPA's New Clean Air Standards Place Children at Greater Risk." Card cites evidence that the new standards would harm children by forcing their parents out of work and into poverty. The card cites a Philadelphia study that found a strong link between poverty and respiratory illness, but virtually no link between air quality and such illnesses.

"Top Five Reasons the EPA's New Air Standards Are a Bad Idea." Card cites studies and leading environmental authorities, including an EPA advisory council, to show that the new standards would accomplish little.


National Policy Analysis Papers

"Cure to Global Warming Could be Worse Than the Disease." Quick-read, six-page paper that answers the questions: Would life be better with or without global warming?; Is global warming actually occurring?; Is global warming the result of human activity? and, Is the prescribed cure for global warming worse than the disease?

"New Clean Air Standards Could Place Children at Greater Risk." Quick-read, two-page paper outlining the negative health consequences of higher air quality standards. Published as an opinion/editorial in the Orange County Register and seven other newspapers.



"The Green Pages." A directory providing organizational profiles, mailing addresses, issue and program information, and website addresses on nearly 80 groups.

For copies of any of the above, contact Mike Quickel @ 202/543/1286 or download them from The National Center's website at

All correspondence to The Relief Report should be directed to: The National Center for Public Policy Research * 300 Eye Street, NE Suite 3 * Washington, D.C. 20001 * Tel 202/543/1286 * Fax 202/543/4779 * E-mail * Web Copyright 1997, The National Center for Public Policy Research. Coverage of meetings, activities or statements in the Relief Report does not imply endorsement by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints of material in the Relief Report permitted provided source is credited. To receive all National Center newsletters free by e-mail, visit