House Considers ‘Drone Zone’ Bill To Roll Back Dozens Of Environmental Laws Within 100 Miles of U.S. Borders

By Jessica Goad

Map and picture released by Congressman Ed Markey

This afternoon the House of Representatives is considering H.R. 2578, a package of public lands bills that contains a provision from Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) giving U.S. Customs and Border Protection authority to shut down any economic or recreational activity within 100 miles of the northern and southern U.S. borders if deemed necessary for securing them.

The section also rolls back more than 30 environmental and public health laws within the 100-mile zone including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Park Service Organic Act that helps protect and preserve national parks (see full list here).

Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) dubbed the provision a “drone zone” bill and explained at a press conference today that:

It essentially will be a national sacrifice zone where our rights, our liberties, and our environment can be sacrificed for the sake of an ideological anti-immigrant, anti-environment agenda.  Make no mistake, this isn’t a bill that actually addresses immigration issues.

Watch it:


Unrelatedly, but ironically, last week the right-wing media reported that the Environmental Protection Agency was using drones to spy on Midwestern ranchers.  In actuality, the EPA has for many years used manned flyovers (not drones) to crack down on pollution.

The provision in the package of bills being voted on today, known as the “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act” (Title XIV), was ostensibly designed to address immigration and drug trafficking issues.  However, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated that the bill as introduced is “unnecessary, and it’s a bad policy.”

At the press conference a coalition of 51 Latino and environmental groups released a letter decrying the provision saying it:

…would sacrifice the rights of Americans to use their land and flout the environmental laws that protect it, all to advance an anti-immigrant, anti-privacy and anti-regulatory agenda.

Other pieces in the package of bills being voted on today include a measure to privatize prime public lands in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, roll back protections for a wild and scenic river in California, and eliminate protections for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.

Tomorrow, the House takes up a package of seven bills to promote more oil and gas drilling on public lands across America.

Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

6 Responses to House Considers ‘Drone Zone’ Bill To Roll Back Dozens Of Environmental Laws Within 100 Miles of U.S. Borders

  1. Doug Bostrom says:

    Unhinged, palpably crazy. And they’re lawmakers!

    Let’s do better at the voting booth, please.

  2. Doug Bostrom says:

    By the way, please don’t use the term “roll back.” It’s invariably a euphemism for something worse, an unwitting framing tool.

    Instead of “roll back” use “suspend,” “abrogate,” or any other of a myriad of more accurate descriptions.

  3. They are trying to rape the environment and take our liberties!

  4. Chris says:

    Wow, those in congress are getting less subtle. Kudos to Markey for telling us the bill he supports is going to screw us over.

  5. squidboy6 says:

    The Montana-ranchers red herring is both despicable and clever. It’s obvious that it’s a red herring too.

    Tell the Tea Party that somebody’s going to lose their rights and they froth at the mouth. I wonder how the Koch Bros pay for this service.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    We have the same thing here in Australia. Every day brings some new Rightwing abomination. The new far Right caudillo in Queensland, Newman, announces 20,000 public service jobs to go. This comes after the immediate abolition of the Premier’s Literary Award, the destruction of groups aiding HIV and AIDS sufferers, female prisoners and other hated out groups. His Attorney-General, a 26 year old ‘Christian’ bigot, has prioritised abolishing the gay civil unions law. The Right is also picking a fight over the Great Barrier Reef, producing bogus environmental studies concerning coal-ports, then openly sneering at dugongs (they hate just about everything, particularly if they see no pecuniary advantage to it). In the NSW Parliament, a representative of The Shooters’ Party, our Tea Party, openly, on the floor of the chamber, speaks of his regret at not being able to take a Green member outside and beat him to death. The smaller of our two MSM print empires is threatened with takeover by Gina Rinehart, the world’s richest and fattest woman, like her father a far Right fanatic with a reputation for ‘getting her way’. A tape exists of Baron Monckhausen, like Ian Plimer, a camp-follower of Rinehart, speaking of how they could buy Fairfax, with loose change, and turn it into a denialist sewer, like News Corpse.
    On and on its goes-the Right, faced by the facts of economic ruin and ecological catastrophe, simply, as ever, and as they cannot help doing given their perverted psyches, fall back on intimidation, lies, bribery and violence, doubled and redoubled again. Is there any sane person anywhere who really believes that these fiends will ever ‘wake up’ to the human condition, and join with the rest of humanity in saving our necks? I for one, believe in ‘Sanity Clause’ and the ‘Truth Fairy’ more strongly.