Jane Danowitz, Pew Environment Group's director of U.S. public lands, issued the following statement in response to today's House Natural Resources Committee hearing on H.R. 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act. The proposed legislation would waive 36 environmental and other laws for Department of Homeland Security activities on federal, state-owned and private lands within 100 miles of U.S. borders and coastline.
“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.
“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. It would leave Congress and the public without a voice, even though at stake are hundreds of popular destinations including Glacier National Park, the Florida Everglades and beaches along Cape Cod, the Great Lakes and the California coastline.
“We urge lawmakers to reject this and any future attempt to undercut fundamental environmental protections that have been on the books for decades.”
H.R. 1505 was introduced on April 13, 2011, by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and would apply to an area that encompasses 10 whole states, including Florida and Hawaii. Environmental and other laws this proposed legislation would waive include the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Wilderness Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, National Park Service Organic Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act. In late July, the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee is expected to hold a hearing on another bill, H.R. 1581. The Wilderness and Roadless Release Act would open up millions of acres of currently protected undeveloped national forests and wild lands to drilling, mining and other industrial development.