Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on Monday issued a veto against a piece of legislation sent to his desk that would seek to ban the implementation of any part of the United Nation’s twenty-year old plan for sustainable development. A series of resolutions passed in 1992, the somewhat ominously named “Agenda 21” sought to provide a framework for countries to grow their economies while not completely destroying the environment. The very phrase “sustainable development” has since then morphed into a code-word for the conspiracy theories that those who believe in black helicopters champion.
Under the provisions of SB265, the Missouri government and all towns, cities, and counties within the state would have been banned from passing any future laws or “policy recommendations originating in, or traceable” to Agenda 21. That broad language would have proved difficult for Missourians to put into effect, according to Nixon. “It is fundamentally misguided and unnecessary to require local government officials to become international law experts in order to perform their duties,” Nixon said in his veto statement:
This legislation would spawn endless litigation frivolously attacking government action based on a belief that a two decades old United Nations resolution is somehow shaping decisions regarding such issues as health codes and road projects. And it is absurd for a city council making a zoning decision to find it necessary to retain a high priced attorney specializing in international law for the purpose of needlessly chasing shadows around corners. The premise of Senate Bill No. 265, to the extent it is discernible, is wrong and the solution it puts forth is worse.
Nixon’s firm veto is all the more impressive in that had he simply declined to sign the bill, according to Nixon’s office, it would quietly have become law without his approval in the form of a “pocket signature.” The strong language in the veto statement, however, shows that what many would dismiss as harmless legislation would actually prove to have a number of negative effects on the functions of government. It remains to be seen whether the Missouri General Assembly will attempt to muster the two-thirds majority vote necessary to override Nixon’s rejection when it meets in the fall for its veto session.
Given its name, it’s easy to see just how the fringes of the conservative movement seized upon Agenda 21 as a sign that the U.N. was insidiously plotting to rule everyday Americans’ lives. That fringe belief has been making its way more and more into the mainstream conservative thought as of late as prominent figures seek to denounce it at every turn. From the warnings of now-Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that the U.N. is coming for our golf courses to the prominent place attacking it was given in the 2012 Republican platform, it’s unlikely that Agenda 21 has cease being a boogey-man for the right-wing for years to come.