Radical environmentalists have long used government as a weapon to stop development projects across the country. Opponents of the Keystone Pipeline have utilized every tactic known to date to stop its implementation. But now the left has devised a new strategy--an ultimate trump card--to stop economic development dead in its tracks and a vote on the measure could come in the House of Representatives as early as Monday.
Congress routinely considers mundane “land-swap” legislation that sets aside private or state owned land in exchange for the ability to use land currently owned by the federal government. This week, the House is scheduled to consider the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2013 (H.R. 687). H.R. 687 would authorize a land swap in Arizona between the federal government in order to build a mining facility that will create 4,000 jobs. Opponents fighting the bill have now pledged to offer an amendment that, if adopted, would serve as a model--and precedent-- for radical environmentalists to stop development anywhere and everywhere in the United States.
There are dozens of federal laws designed to protect land determined to be “sacred” by Native Americans. There are specific and long standing designations of what constitutes a sacred site. But Rep. Ben Lujan (D-NM) has said he will offer an amendment to let the Secretary of Interior set aside land from development should he or she determine the land has “cultural” connections to Native American tribes. Of course the amendment doesn't define what cultural means. Some proponents of the amendment define it as land were Native Americans prayed or bathed in medicinal streams. But the purposeful use of such a broad and oblique term leaves it open to interpretation--the Secretary's interpretation alone--and that's exactly the point. It's easy to see the tremendous power this grants the radical left that is well connected to like minded bureaucrats.
Proponents of the amendment are attempting to attract Republican votes for this amendment by brazenly and falsely claiming that it is necessary to protect sacred sites. But the proposed mine sits 20 miles from the closest reservation. Additionally, the Forest Service performed a feasibility study and decreed that there was no tribal impact and could not locate any sacred sites on the land where the mine would be built. So if no sacred site is being affected, one has to ask why Lujan and his supporters seek to lower the threshold to the point of pure arbitrariness.
As always with the Left, the devil is in the details. Native Americans have walked, prayed, lived and gathered plants from coast to coast. Any project in America would be vulnerable to this tactic. Road construction, housing developments, retail construction and and endless list of development projects could be shut down using this tactic.
More immediately, many observers have noted that Rep Lujan, the author of the amendment has been among the most aggressive opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline and believe that the attack on what should be routine land swap legislation is an attempt to set a precedent that can then be used to finally kill Keystone.
To add more reason for suspicion, the lobby shop working with tribes and Lujan on this amendment, Mapetsi Policy Group, is chocked full of former staffers from the Obama and Clinton administrations. The same Mapetsi Policy Group that is currently helping the Roarch Tribe in Alabama build a casino on top of the 60 Muscogee Creek Nation graves. Oh, and Mapetsi just happens to be one of Lujan's biggest donors.
Lujan and proponents of the amendment are counting on Republicans being asleep at the wheel and distracted by the CR to sneak by and set in motion a power grab that will tilt the scales towards radicals permanently. Conservatives are concerned that some Republicans are actually even considering voting for this. Republicans need to wake up and pay attention before they hand the Obama Administration and the left a new club with which they will undoubtedly bludgeon them.