Sweeping changes are in store for the 3 million residents of metropolitan Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and most of them will come courtesy of unelected local bureaucrats, working hand in glove with a coterie of “stakeholders” and Obama Administration officials.

The goal is to transform the Twin Cities and surrounding jurisdictions from the diverse communities that have arisen organically over the past century and a half into fully regimented blocks of residential and commercial buildings, where every move will be planned and monitored by self-appointed environmental and social stewards.

All-Powerful Body of Master Planners

Writing in the Wall Street Journal (May 20), Katherine Kersten of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) describes the grandiose scheme known as “Thrive MSP 2040.”  Thrive is the brainchild of the region’s Metropolitan Council, known locally as the Met Council.  Created in the 1960s to deal with problems relating to regional infrastructure, the Met Council has evolved into an all-powerful body of master planners who are determined to circumvent local government and impose their vision of an environmentally and economically “sustainable” society on largely unsuspecting citizens.

mspIn keeping with the practice of other regional development councils across the country, the Met Council is composed of unelected members. All 17 of its members were appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton (D).  Thrive, the Met Council’s 30-year master plan for the region’s 186 municipalities spread out over seven counties, aims, among other things, to put low-income housing in high-income areas, push “travel modes other than the car at all levels of development,” and promote all future housing and economic development within “easy walking distance” (one-half mile) of major transit stops.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has gotten into the act by awarding the Met Council a $5 million grant to identify suburban land-use and zoning practices that allegedly deny minorities opportunities for economic development, Kersten points out.  Thrive also foresees huge expenditures of public funds for mass transit, including light rail, at the expense of badly needed upgrades to road and highways.

The “Lens” of Climate Change

“The Thrive plan’s most radical element may be to evaluate all future development policies through the ‘lens’ of climate change,” AEI’s Kersten writes in the WSJ.  “Over time, this could give the council a license to dramatically remake the entire metropolitan area.”

That, of course, is exactly what Thrive and similar regional planning schemes in Portland, San Francisco, and scores of other metropolitan areas are pottedplantdesigned to do.  Once such plans are fully implemented, elected officials can do little more than stand around like potted plants while decision-making authority devolves to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats and activists.

CFACT has coined the term “Plantocracy” to describe this emerging political force.  The blueprint for this kind of arrangement was drawn up at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

The toxic brew uncorked there is being enthusiastically imbibed by the plantocracy.


  • Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

    Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT, where he focuses on natural resources, energy, property rights, and geopolitical developments. Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Busines Daily, The New York Post, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, The Hill, The Epoch Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Miami Herald, and dozens of other newspapers around the country. He has been interviewed on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN, NBC News, NPR, BBC, BBC Worldwide Television, N24 (German-language news network), and scores of radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. He has testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. Dr. Cohen has addressed conferences in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Bangladesh. He has a B.A. from the University of Georgia and a Ph. D. – summa cum laude – from the University of Munich.