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U.S. House Approves Legislation That Would Toss Aside Environmental Laws Protecting National Parks


A package of bills that would toss aside environmental laws and regulations protecting a number of national parks passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, though its prospects in the Senate were unclear.

The package, if it managed to become law, would give the U.S. Border Patrol wide-ranging access to lands managed by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and other federal lands that lie within 100 miles of an international border.

Parks that fall within that 100-mile swath include Big Bend, Isle Royale, Everglades, Biscayne, Dry Tortugas, Glacier, North Cascades, Voyageurs, Virgin Islands, Olympic, Redwoods, Channel Islands, and all the national seashores.

Environmental laws and regulations set aside by one piece of the package, H.R. 1505, include The Wilderness Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Antiquities Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, the Fish and Wildlife Act, the National Park Service Organic Act, and the National Parks and Recreation Act, among others.

"This is just one more example of the House attempting to push something through the Congress that is extreme and an overreach," David Moulton, senior legislative director for The Wilderness Society, told the Traveler on Tuesday evening. "I think we can beat it in the Senate, but we have to keep up the pressure.”

The House vote was 232-188. Sixteen Democrats voted for the bill, while 19 Republicans opposed it. Whether the Senate takes up the measure is unclear. Currently, there is no companion bill in the Senate, where rules could make it difficult to move a stand-alone bill. However, said Mr. Moulton, a senator could try to amend the package to a "must-pass bill," such as an appropriations measure or transportation bill.

The Wilderness Society official said if the measure somehow became law, it "would allow road building, construction and development on lands that are loved for hunting, fishing, hiking and other recreational activities. This vote was not in the best interest of the people who enjoy the land for its natural beauty.”

The main architect of H.R. 1505 was U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who long has sought to free the U.S. Border Patrol from observing environmental laws in its bid to secure the country's borders.

"This legislation is the right thing for this country," the Republican said earlier Tuesday in a release. "At the end of the day, this matter is far too important to go unaddressed and shoring up these trafficking corridors will help close the gaps that are preventing us from having a truly secure border."

General Accounting Office reports, however, have struck down Rep. Bishop's contention that environmental regulations are hamstringing the Border Patrol.

Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee have launched a website called DRONEZONE that allows Americans to look at national, state, and even Congressional district maps to see if they live or could potentially visit this expanded DHS patrol area.

“This is theater of the absurd,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, the Ranking Member of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee. “Republicans have wanted to gut these laws for decades, and each excuse seems to get a little flimsier. They’re not afraid to invent new reasons to get their way, and when those run out they just use the old ones again. The days of scaring everyone by shouting ‘national security’ are long over, and Republicans would do everyone a favor by admitting it.”


Does being a "friend" of the Parks exclude "tough love," transparency, character, virtue or has the definition changed as the culture has drifting into PC paralysis that hastens decline?

‎"Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles."Unknown author

Not a chance. I've got a life in the real world. You have a spiffy day now.

Looks like a pretty good record to me. Want to pick one and debate?

Good old Orrin. Per the research website:

Orrin Hatch on the environment:

  • Limit National Monuments to 50,000 acres. (Feb 1998)
  • Voted NO on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program. (Aug 2009)
  • Voted YES on prohibiting eminent domain for use as parks or grazing land. (Dec 2007)
  • Voted YES on confirming Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior. (Jan 2001)
  • Voted YES on more funding for forest roads and fish habitat. (Sep 1999)
  • Voted YES on transportation demo projects. (Mar 1998)
  • Voted NO on reducing funds for road-building in National Forests. (Sep 1997)
  • Voted NO on continuing desert protection in California. (Oct 1994)
  • Voted YES on requiring EPA risk assessments. (May 1994)
  • Congress should decide land use, not DOI. (Sep 1979)

Orrin Hatch on Energy & Oil:

  • Eliminate Kyoto Accords and implement more local control. (Jan 2000)
  • Revoke Kyoto Accords as environmental extremism. (Dec 1999)
  • Supports alternative fuels to meet EPA air standards. (May 1999)
  • Focus on market incentives to foster alternative fuels. (May 1999)
  • Tax credits for electric cars, alternative fuels & stations. (May 1999)
  • Voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. (Apr 2011)
  • Voted YES on protecting middle-income taxpayers from a national energy tax. (Apr 2009)
  • Voted YES on requiring full Senate debate and vote on cap-and-trade. (Apr 2009)
  • Voted NO on tax incentives for energy production and conservation. (Jun 2008)
  • Voted NO on addressing CO2 emissions without considering India & China. (May 2008)
  • Voted NO on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies. (Jun 2007)
  • Voted YES on making oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal. (Jun 2007)
  • Voted NO on factoring global warming into federal project planning. (May 2007)
  • Voted NO on disallowing an oil leasing program in Alaska's ANWR. (Nov 2005)
  • Voted NO on $3.1B for emergency oil assistance for hurricane-hit areas. (Oct 2005)
  • Voted NO on reducing oil usage by 40% by 2025 (instead of 5%). (Jun 2005)
  • Voted NO on banning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Mar 2005)
  • Voted YES on Bush Administration Energy Policy. (Jul 2003)
  • Voted NO on targeting 100,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2010. (Jun 2003)
  • Voted NO on removing consideration of drilling ANWR from budget bill. (Mar 2003)
  • Voted YES on drilling ANWR on national security grounds. (Apr 2002)
  • Voted YES on terminating CAFE standards within 15 months. (Mar 2002)
  • Voted YES on preserving budget for ANWR oil drilling. (Apr 2000)
  • Voted NO on ending discussion of CAFE fuel efficiency standards. (Sep 1999)
  • Voted YES on defunding renewable and solar energy. (Jun 1999)
  • Voted YES on approving a nuclear waste repository. (Apr 1997)
  • Voted NO on do not require ethanol in gasoline. (Aug 1994)
  • Develop technology for carbon dioxide sequestration. (Feb 2008)
  • Open the Outer Continental Shelf for oil & gas leasing. (Jun 2008)

I didn't pick and choose to support my dislike for the man - the list above has some stuff I agree with, but far and away I find him NOT friend of the parks or the environment.

The "starve children and kill old people" talking points are alive in the Parks discussion. At no time in my life have I felt the importance of getting past the temptation. Pretty sobering environment we are in especially with the leadership that pushes the most dysfunctional buttons in the human condition. Long live the Parks (and the country).

Gee, anon, Orrin has you fooled, too?

Orrin's victory in the primary was bought by huge amounts of special interest and SuperPAC dollars. His TV commercials ran every three minutes on Utah TV stations. Robocalls jammed our telephones. Voter turnout at the primary was the usual pathetically small percentage of eligible voters -- and most were probably right-wing fanatics. The choice was between two equally poor choices. We'll see what happens in November when Hatch must face off with a highly respected former Utah state senator. But even then, it will be an almost impossible task for Scott Howell to avoid being buried completely by Hatch's enormous financial backing from people like the Koch Brothers and others whose primary interest is profit and dominion over the rest of us. Unfortunately, Rob Bishop enjoys the same kind of advantage over his opposition.

If that is inflammatory, then so be it.

Hey Lee, with all your inflamatory, trollish descriptions of Utah Residents do you include Orin Hatch in your diatribes. I'm the one that mentioned the third rail of honorable people that are waiting to pick up the pieces while you and Bishop are mud wrestling. Majority of Utah Residents support Senator Hatch, a great American and I believe a friend of the National Parks in a way that strengthens the Republic.

I too, agree with you Rick in supporting Kurt's policy on here. I do ask the question to you and Lee as to what you are a troll for (your description). Would you have brought up issues like the Indian Trader Scandal that destroyed real living history or the case of the much honored ranger that had his career destroyed for doing what was right. The often religous ferver that is apparent at times in defending these wild places sometimes hides some particularly troubling personal traits and when combined with a chain of command that are willingly or against their will, participate for their careers sake.

I am not a "troll" for any industry or government agency but I try to encourage the opportunity for individuals to experience the freedoms that both contribute to breakthroughs in the personal realm. When you put the worst of either's contributions (industry and governemnt) it would be difficult to tell which is worse for individuals, I believe.

There is a third rail out there of public sensibilities that, I believe, will be apparent and present to pick up the pieces of acrimony. Even the "trolls" will understand that something good is afoot, I hope.

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