Just when you thought it was safe to back into the national parks.
If enacted into law, a bill sponsored by Utah Congressman Rob Bishop now working its way through the House of Representatives would make the Department of Homeland Security all powerful within 100 miles of any U.S. border. As reported by the Adventure Journal, the Committee on Natural Resources approved the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act by a vote of 26-17. The act basically gives the DHS the power to go above, under or around 36 environmental laws within 100 miles of the border. All this in the sake of protecting our boundaries from illegal immigrants.
Predictably, this proposed law has been met with backlash; but not-so-predictably it is seeing opposition from both sides of the aisle. Environmentalists are up in arms because the territory includes some of the nations most precious and fragile open spaces, including Big Bend National Park, Allegheny National Forest and Glacier National Park, just to name a few. Editorials around the nation are spelling out this proposed law as a blatant attempt at undercutting environmental regulation on a huge scale. Conversely, the power given to the DHS would permit them to build or confiscate on public and private land, including in border cities, without due process or public approval.
This is truly a scary vision. One agency having totalitarian control over such a large area, that includes such a diverse and multi-agency regulated landscape, would take our already tumultuous political and social landscape and really roil it up. Could Occupy National Parks be the next big movement? At least it would be more pleasant than a concrete street in the city…at least for now.