The Republicans hate environmental protections so much they will do nearly anything to around them, even going so far as to pretend that environmental laws leave our borders open to invasion by immigrants and terrorists, whom we all know first stuff their anuses with explosives or drugs. The GOP solution to this imagined problem seems to be embracing a police state – granting the border patrol immunity from environmental laws – a free hand to do whatever they want within 100 miles of the border.
The effect would probably a lot like the old East German border guards. Of course, they would be keeping people out instead of in – though there might be a steady stream of people trying to get out if the GOP wins big in 2012. They can be easily rounded up too, never fear: Barbed wire works both ways.
Here are the details:
In a really bizarre end-run around environmental protections, Republicans in the House (who else?) are pushing Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop’s National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, which, the Texas Tribune says, “would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior from enacting environmental regulations that hinder the operations of the CBP on public lands within 100 miles of the U.S. border.” Argues Paul Spitler of the Wilderness Society: “There are literally no checks on the agency. They would have unfettered access and control to do whatever they choose; there would be no oversight in Congress.”
Now here’s the thing: As any reference to a map will reveal, we have very few national parks along our borders north or south, and none of them extend a hundred miles into the heartland, meaning the entire national park in each and every case will be exposed to these anti-environmental intrusions, transforming them from natural wonders to militarized zones. And it would not be just national parks but National wildlife refuges and Bureau of Land Management-administered land that would be affected.
So much for a small, non-intrusive federal government. Republicans, under the guise of deregulation, want to regulate the border. And they want to spend money they say we don’t have in order to do it.
According to the Associated Press:
The proposal would let the Border Patrol circumvent dozens of environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, in areas those laws were created for: the nation’s most protected wilderness that falls within the 100-mile border zone with both Mexico and Canada.
Add to that the Safe Drinking Water Act and altogether, some 36 environmental laws would get thrown under the wheels of border patrol vehicles. Needless to say, having an army camped on our border won’t do much for the tourist industry and therefore the local economies, but then the GOP has never really cared about the economy, certainly not since President Obama took office.
It’s really seems to be a case of an extreme case of hatred for all things Earth-related, an attack on the environment disguised as a national security measure. It’s also a case of hypocrisy, of supposedly small-government Republicans finding yet another way to bring government in where it isn’t needed. By all accounts, there is no problem to be fixed as cooperation between border patrol and park rangers seem to be excellent.
And why apply the same solution to north and south? Obviously our northern borders in particular haven’t been threatened since the War of 1812 and we have other means of protecting our southern border if Herman Cain’s wall, moat and crocodiles don’t come into being. The Superintendent of North Cascades National Park, Chip Jenkins, points out that, “Compared to the southern border, it is an infinitesimally small number. It is like one in a year, not thousands.” He says that “So far it has been working. Part of it is that the geography works to our advantage. It is incredibly rugged terrain, and very difficult to navigate.”
Destroying the landscape and the environment so the immigrants don’t get it seems a self-defeating strategy. President Obama rightly opposes this legislation, pointing out there is no real need for it, an opinion which will have no effect whatsoever on the catastrophically clueless in Congress.
Of course, politics surround this proposal like flies on feces:
Representative Denny Rehberg of Montana, a Republican co-sponsor of the House bill who is in the midst of a fierce campaign to unseat a freshman Democrat, Senator Jon Tester, in 2012, has argued that environmental rules should not get in the way of border protection.
Bishop’s bill has 32 co-sponsors in the House (again, no surprise). The Earth-haters want to build roads in our pristine wildernesses. Roads and base camps (forward firebases, maybe?), and of course, motorized vehicles tearing up the ground in places they’re not currently allowed to be. Everyone knows we’re facing a huge threat of invasion from Canada.
Spitler makes note of the fact that all this is “part of a pattern of scapegoating environmental laws for any problem by extreme members of Congress. Their solutions always seem to be to overturn the environmental laws. Well, the environmental laws aren’t the problem here.”
It’s almost a surprise the GOP isn’t just proposing to annex Canada. It’s much closer than Iran, after all, and if it’s not full of “Mooslims” it’s full of socialists. And there’d be so much more land to destroy.
Baring an invasion of Canada we can expect the bill, which has passed through the House Natural Resources Committee, to get full support from the Republican-controlled House, which continues to decline to address the nation’s economy or jobs, choosing instead to continue with a nihilistic policy of scorching the earth. The Texas Tribune reports that “Crystal Feldman, the press secretary for the Committee on Natural Resources, told the Tribune the bill is still pending, and could not comment on when the measure would go before the full House of Representatives for a vote.”
Photo from BeautifulPlacestoVisit.com
Map from cr.nps.gov