Letter to the editor:

House bill hurts environment

Wed, Jun 27, 2012 (2:01 a.m.)

As a military officer, I was trained to accomplish our mission while respecting rules of engagement, our government allies at all levels and the laws of the land. Unfortunately, a bill recently passed in the name of border security by the House of Representatives undermines our national environmental safety laws and regulations while doing little or nothing to strengthen the border.

House Resolution 1505 is dangerous. The proposed law would undermine a raft of environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, as well as others that protect public health. HR1505 would give one agency, Homeland Security’s Border Patrol, carte blanche to do virtually anything without significant oversight by federal land managers on federal lands. That could be particularly troublesome here in Nevada, where more than 80 percent of our beautiful state is managed by the federal government.

The Border Patrol has told congressional researchers “land management laws have had no effect on Border Patrol’s overall measure of border security.” This bill places Border Patrol above the law and allows it to act without any local input, no matter the impact or reason. When the very agencies tasked with promoting national security are opposed to this bill, it is clear it does no service for them to better protect the nation’s borders.

I urge Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller to provide security to the nation while at the same time upholding the laws that protect our federal lands and waters. I urge them to oppose HR1505.

The author is a retired Air Force officer.

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