Bad Border Bill Puts Iconic Wildlife, Lands and Waters in Danger

Border security legislation suspends environmental protections, allows border officials to run roughshod across thousands of acres of public lands

06-19-2012 // Aislinn Maestas and Bentley Johnson
Bighorn Sheep

The U.S. House of Representatives today is expected to pass a package of public lands bills (H.R. 2578) which includes a provision put forth by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) that sacrifices clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat and waterways.

The National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act would create a non-compliance “operational zone” where conservation and environmental laws are allowed to be ignored on public lands within 100 miles of a U.S. land border. This gives U.S. Customs and Border Protection the ability to circumvent 16 laws, including the Endangered Species Act, Wilderness Act, and National Environmental Policy Act.

Jim Lyon, Vice President for Conservation Policy for the National Wildlife Federation said today:

This legislation is an outright attack on America’s public lands. By allowing border officials to sidestep environmental checks and balances, this provision could turn some of our most wild and scenic public lands into construction sites, crisscrossed with roads and fences.

“The 100 mile-wide non-compliance zone includes dozens of our country’s most exceptional places to hunt, fish and view wildlife, including Glacier National Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Allegheny National Forest, and Olympic National Forest.  If this bill is signed into law, our access to  hunt, fish and recreate on these lands could be cut off without any recourse, and vital habitat for species like mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk, cutthroat trout and largemouth bass could be destroyed on a whim.”

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