"National security continues to be jeopardized along the border by denying USBP access to federal border lands," a Bishop press release claimed at the time. "DOI cites environmental concerns as the reason for blocking entry into federal land areas, but the lands they seek to protect are already being damaged and overrun by those coming across the border illegally. Due to the USBP's lack of access, unpatrolled federal border lands have become a direct and inaccessible artery into the U.S. for drug smuggling, human trafficking, terrorist, arms trafficking and other criminal activity."
Bishop's proposed solution, however, has met with sharp criticism.
The Pew Environment Group condemned the bill, calling it a "sweeping waiver of the nation's bedrock environmental and land management laws" that has little to do with accomplishing the goal of national security.
"Instead, the proposed legislation would give unprecedented authority to a single federal agency to destroy wildlife habitat and wetlands, impair downstream water quality and restrict activities such as hunting, fishing and grazing," said Jane Danowitz, director of U.S. public lands for Pew. "It would leave Congress and the public without a voice, even though at stake are hundreds of popular destinations."
Bishop, however, argues, "The gravity of the situation must no longer be ignored. This legislation helps ensure that DOI policies no longer enable dangerous criminals to co-opt federal border lands as their drug trafficking highways."
A report in Cape Cod's Provincetown Banner reports that areas in which environmental laws would be waived under the proposed law include the entire border of Alaska, most of Puerto Rico, all of Hawaii, all of Florida, Olympic National Park and Mt. Rainer National Park in Washington, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Big Bend National Park in Texas, Acadia National Park in Maine and Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.
Bishop's office has created a promotional fact sheet on HR 1505, which currently has 41 cosponsors and earlier this month endured a hearing before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, of which Bishop is the chairman.
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