A measure discussed today in Congress would exempt efforts to secure the border from environmental and other regulations.
H.R. 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, would exempt the Department of Homeland Security from 36 federal regulations, many of them environmental laws, within 100 miles of the coast. That range would cover all of Florida, as well as Hawaii, Delaware and most of New England.
The measure was on this morning’s schedule for the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. It is intended to “prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from taking action on public lands which impede border security on such lands.” Regulations exempted include the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.
It also includes this provision:
The Secretary of Homeland Security shall have immediate access to any public land managed by the Federal Government (including land managed by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture) for purposes of conducting activities that assist in securing the border (including access to maintain and construct roads, construct a fence, use vehicles to patrol, and set up monitoring equipment).
The Pew Environment Group expressed its opposition to the measure in a release sent out yesterday: “While we strongly support making America’s borders more secure, this sweeping waiver of the nation’s bedrock environmental and land management laws has little to do with accomplishing that goal.”