st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband" /> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband" /> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband" />
Thursday July 14, 2011 | 08:30 AM

A proposal by a conservative Republican House member from Utah to waive environmental laws within 100 miles of an international border or shoreline would cover the entire state of Maine and gut clean air and water protections, says Rep. Chellie Pingree.

Pingree, D-1st, is reacting in a release to a bill introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, that remains in the subcommittee chaired by Bishop, the House Committee on Natural Resources’ National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee. There was a hearing on the measure July 8, when a group of Democrats and environmentalists slammed the measure, but it has not been sent to the full committee yet.

Still, Pingree warns that, “If this law goes through, basically the entire state of Maine has no protection from letting the agency do whatever it wants to on our lands, air, and water. I just don’t see how protecting endangered species and clean water stands in the way of national security.”  

The bill also has been criticized by environmental advocacy groups such as the Sierra Club and Pew Environment Group. Advocates and Democrats who oppose the bill note that it would waive some three dozen environmental laws affecting some two-thirds of Americans.

Bishop has said the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to catch illegal immigrants, narcotics traffickers and terrorists trying to come over the border is hampered by environmental restrictions. Democrats charge that Bishop is using national security as cover to gut environmental laws.

Bishop has cited support from organizations such as the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers and the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.

“The land is being harmed and our national security is threatened, and the status quo will remain until we give the Border Patrol the access they need to do their jobs,” Bishop said earlier this month.

Jane Danowitz of the Pew Environment Group says that,  “While we strongly support making America’s borders more secure, this sweeping waiver of the nation’s bedrock environmental and land management laws has little to do with accomplishing that goal.

“Instead, the proposed legislation would give unprecedented authority to a single federal agency to destroy wildlife habitat and wetlands, impair downstream water quality and restrict activities such as hunting, fishing and grazing," Danowitz said earlier this month just before Bishop's hearing. "It would leave Congress and the public without a voice, even though at stake are hundreds of popular destinations including Glacier National Park, the Florida Everglades and beaches along Cape Cod, the Great Lakes and the California coastline."

If Bishop’s bill, which was first introduced in April, advances through the House, it would presumably face an uphill struggle in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

About this Blog

Subscribe to the
Maine on the Hill RSS

About the Author

Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

Subscribe to the
Maine on the Hill RSS

Previous entries

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

More

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)
Prefer to respond privately? Email us here.