Energy productivity isn't the only thing that is hampered by laws governing so-called endangered species. For decades, the Departments of Interior and Agriculture have encumbered border security operations with layers of environmental restrictions and regulations. Additionally, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been forced to pay millions in taxpayer dollars, known as mitigation funds, to offset the "environmental effects" of their roads, fences, and surveillance towers in or near national parks and other federally owned lands. Now, Rep. Rob Bishop is seeking to exempt the border patrol agents from these laws, so they can focus on their real job – protecting the border.
Bishop's bill (H.R. 1505) prohibits the secretaries of Agriculture and Interior from impeding border security operations that are currently stymied by three dozen environmental regulations, including the Wilderness Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, and the 1965 law known as the Solid Waste Disposal Act. This bill allows CPB to construct roads and fences, use patrol vehicles, and set up monitoring equipment within on all federal lands within 100 miles of both the northern and southern borders.
The bill passed the Natural Resources Committee on a party line vote. Now Republican leaders must schedule a floor vote on this vital legislation.
Not surprisingly, the environmental groups and administration appointees at the DOI and USDA are feigning outrage over this bill. Far-left Rep. Raul Grijalva said that the bill “may succeed in decreasing immigration, but only because the water, air and environments of border communities will be so degraded, no one will want to come here.” Unfortunately, they have never expressed any consternation over the fact that the drug cartels are ravaging our national parks along the borders with their roads, vehicles and 'offices.' In fact, some of these parks have been off limits to visitors, and if we fail to obtain operational control over the border, we won't have to worry about the animals in the parks anyway. 60% of Organ Pipe in Arizona remains closed due to drug trafficking.
Liberals might believe that regulations create jobs, but in this case, those jobs will go to the drug cartels, which have free reign over our border parks.
Obama and the Democrats claim that they support border enforcement against criminal aliens, yet they have shown no interest in providing the border patrol with the requisite resources to fight the dangerous drug cartels and preserve our parks along the border. Or, do they believe that the pronghorn antelope, dunes sagebrush lizard, spotted owl, and delta smelt are not harmed by drug cartel vehicles?
Republicans should make this bill a priority on their floor schedule. In their Pledge to America, they promised to "ensure that the Border Patrol has the tools and authorities to establish operational control at the border and prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from interfering with Border Patrol enforcement activities on federal lands."
Well, this would be a convenient way to fulfill their promise. They have shown some tepidness in delivering on the budgetary promises of the pledge, so this one should be an easy way to earn back public trust.