The April 15 hearing, titled â€?The Border: Are Environmental Laws and Regulations Impeding Security and Harming the Environment?,â€? was an opportunity for Bishop to criticize the imbalance of environment regulations taking precedence over national security.
The current situation enables violent foreign narco-thugs. Environmental regulations hamper the ability of Border Patrol agents to move around in public lands, giving the Mexican drug smuggling criminals an extra advantage.
And for people who care about protecting the environment of the border area, the damage done by millions of illegal aliens tramping through leaving tons of garbage far outweighs the footprint left by the Border Patrol agents doing their job. In 2009, Arizona conservationists picked up 234 tons of trash left by aliens in that state alone.
Below is Rep. Bishop making his opening statement, in which he pulls no punches. You can watch the entire hearing on C-SPAN.
Bishop bill seeks to waive environmental rules for border patrol , Salt Lake Tribune, April 14, 2011
Washington â€? Border patrol agents would be able to cross into sensitive wilderness areas, build and maintain roads, construct fences and patrol the areas with vehicles without fear of breaking environmental laws under a bill introduced this week again by Rep. Rob Bishop.
The Utah Republican, chairman of the House Natural Resources subcommittee over federal lands, says his bill would allow border agents to secure the border without what he says are barriers â€” literally physical barriers in some cases â€” put up by public land managers.
Bishop, who toured the border in Arizona last year and plans to go next week as well, is holding a joint hearing Friday with the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to look at border security along the U.S.-Mexico line.
He says federal lands along the U.S. border are a â€?haven of criminal activityâ€? and environmental laws meant to protect the lands are actually allowing border crossers to destroy them.
â€?I have seen firsthand the damage that has been done to our federal lands from trash, foot traffic and man-made fires,â€? Bishop said in reintroducing the bill he proposed last session. â€?Providing Border Patrol with the necessary access to deter and apprehend those who cross through our federal lands illegally would deliver the greatest benefit to both national security and the long-term health of our federal lands.â€?
Matthew Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, under which border patrol operates, said the department doesnâ€™t comment on pending legislation. But he noted that DHS is fully committed to cooperating with Interior and the Forest Service, which also has lands abutting the international border.
Interior spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff also declined to comment on pending legislation but noted that the departmentâ€™s work with Homeland Security has allowed basic border security infrastructure to be strategically located on federal lands to meet DHSâ€™ goals.
Interior, Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Agriculture entered into an agreement in 2006 that allows border patrol to enter sensitive wilderness areas in pursuit of criminal activity, though Bishop has contended the deal still hampers the ability to secure the border.