Most people will agree that our public lands are being threatened from all directions. Smuggling activities on our southern border, unsustainable mineral and fossil fuel withdrawals, poor planning, irresponsible recreation actions and climate change are all taking a toll on this land. Unfortunately many of the people we elected to Congress are considering legislation that would add another stress on the land by waiving important environmental laws, most of which were passed with bipartisan support.
This proposed legislation, HR1505, is called the ‘‘National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act.’’ Sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and S 803, cosponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). These bills would give unrestricted power to the Department of Homeland Security on all public lands within 100 miles of our borders we share with Mexico and Canada.
If passed this legislation would permit the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to do what is deemed necessary in the guise of national security without any public comment or even an internal review process. This means the DHS could build roads, fences, living quarters, surveillance towers and airstrips to name a few examples anywhere on public land within 100-miles of our international borders, including Canada. Can you imagine what this could do to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (OPCNM), the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge (CPNWR) and the Sonoran Desert National Monument (SDNM) if this insane idea becomes law and is implemented?
Look at the following map. This is an example of what has happened on the CPNWR with smuggling activities coupled with law enforcement and poor national policy, which exempts DHS from many current environmental protection laws. Bad policy that will be expanded if HR1505 becomes law. There should not be any roads represented by blue lines in the map below. Imagine what 100-miles of this would be like along our international borders. Remember the CPNWR is a wilderness area established by Congress in 1990.
HR1505 is not a done deal. We have time to let our elected representatives know that HR1505 is a bad idea. Let your representatives in Congress know that you do not approve of this ill-conceived and environmentally devastating bill becoming law.