Morning Read: Homeland Security vs. the Environment?

I don’t often link on the Morning Read to editorials, but the Watertown Daily Times is focusing this morning’s lead opinion essay on Republican legislation that would free Homeland Security officials from obeying environmental laws.

According to the newspaper, the change would affect all DHS operations within a hundred miles of the Mexican or Canadian borders

That means agents could operate without any environmental restrictions in places like Olympic National Park, Glacier Park, the Great Lakes and Boundary Waters Wilderness Area — and the St. Lawrence River.

That is not what the national parks were created for, and they should not be subject to such unregulated activities. The proposed legislation would allow one federal agency to proceed as its pleases in areas that contain protected wildlife habitat, wetlands and waterways.

“We’re talking about waiving laws that protect habitat and clean air and clean water in national parks and other beloved places that Americans really cherish — and that belong to all of us,” said Jane Danowitz of the Pew Environment Group.

So what do you think?  Should green laws be set aside in the interest of national security?  Can measures like these really make our borders safer anyway?  Comments welcome.

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30 Comments on “Morning Read: Homeland Security vs. the Environment?”

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  1. Dave says:

    Exactly what are they not allowed to do right now that they think they need to be doing?

  2. Walker says:

    In a word, NO. Looks to me as if that would give them better than two thirds of the Adirondacks to run amok in. And to what point?

  3. Peter Hahn says:

    They just don’t like environmental laws – and they don’t like parks all that much either. Sort of like insisting that people can carry their handguns into national parks. Just mean-spirited.

  4. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Ironic that the supposed party of small, less intrusive gov’t seems to be the one pushing to give more power (to say nothing of ever increasing funding) to the ever growing security complex. Are their hands somehow tied at present when it comes to securing the border because of environmental laws?

    I’d really like to hear the specifics behind this new legislation and why, exactly, the sponsors are attempting to exempt one federal agency from the laws that another federal agency is tasked with enforcing. People really need to begin questioning the why’s and how’s of this ever growing security complex.

  5. Jeff says:

    The editorial has inadequate information so I read further.

    Border patrol says whenever they set up a patrol zone, after spending four months getting permits(southern border) the border crossers take a new path without applying for permits for their new route. So the border patrol is limited because they can’t harm the habitat where the spotted seemly diddles live until they get a permit. The illegals are not following any laws law and the enforcers are following regulations. Kind of like the old take sanctuary in a church deal in years gone by.

    It sounds like legislators using a whitewash brush when they should use a sash brush.

    On the other hand the “environmentalists” are sending up a smoke screen because they cite no specific harm. Not even pointing out that a fence limits the movement of cougars or grizzlies.

    If the illegals would follow the law the whole issue would be moot.

  6. Paul says:

    I am with you Dave. I have no idea what they are talking about even when I read the whole thing. I just don’t get it.

  7. Mark Wilson says:

    Flouting the clean water act along the stretch of the US/Canadian boundary marked by the St. Lawrence River would have adverse downstream consequences where the river runs exclusively into Canadian territory (threatening major population centers). So the GOP gets a twofer: war on the environment AND war on a socialist, french-speaking country.

    The best that can be said of it, at least Fort Drum personnel won’t have such a long commute for this next GOP aggression.

  8. Paul says:

    “war on the environment AND war on a socialist, french-speaking country”

    Seems like just a bit of a stretch.

  9. Paul says:

    Mark, why would you have to “flout” the clean water act to put up surveillance cameras or some fencing? Is there more to this story?

  10. Pete Klein says:

    My first reaction is what environmental laws do they want to break?
    My second reaction is in the interest of saving money we should get rid of the DHS, ATF, DEA and ICE.
    We are paying for far too many boys and girls who like to intimidate people because they are the “good guys.”
    Laws are for the rest of us but not for them.

  11. myown says:

    Well we already have greatly compromised our values in the name of “security” – violating the Geneva Convention prohibiting the torture of prisoners; denying habeus corpus to any one we label a terrorist; even killing American citizens on foreign soil without a trial. What’s the big deal now to ignore a few environmental laws in the name of “security”?

    Occupy Wall Street, I hope you add these outrageous transgressions to your list of grievences!!

  12. wj says:

    Another thing: The U.S. government/taxpayers spent – and keep spending – billions of dollars on border security.

    And it’s totally undone, usually by just one person.

    This happened in Champlain just a few years ago, when a border agent allowed the entry of a man with the drug-resistant form of TB. The infected man gave his real name and I D to the border agent.

    The border agent and his superiors even admitted the agent saw the man’s name come up on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement computer screen as a person who should be taken into custody.

    And still the infected man was allowed to come right through.

    Then there’s the Underwear Bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Remember? He set off lots of red flags. But he still got through our multi-Billion-dollar “security” screen.

    How? One person said, “Go ahead.”

    There are probably stories on the other side, showing how all the money, time, effort and James Bond gadgetry helped catch the “evil doers.”

    But the Champlain-crossing TB guy and the Underwear Bomber are enough for me to say, No.

    No, the government can’t waive or ignore environmental laws in pursuit of “security.”

    Whatever we have now – and whatever we’ve already lost – has cost too much already.

  13. Mervel says:

    I am with those who don’t understand what they want to do?

    I am assuming that they have the right now to pursue criminals wherever those criminals are?

    However if they want to dump fuel or oil or cut down wide swaths of trees etc., I would say no.

    My guess (total speculation) is that it would make the border patrols job much much easier if there was not so much natural cover along some of these border corridors. So you may see them asking to basically clear a path along the border so there is nowhere for people to hide when they come over. So you go in and clear cut along the border. It would be totally against that.

    But if they are saying we can’t even pursue these guys I would be in favor of letting them chase these guys wherever they need to go.

  14. Paul says:

    myown, I am shocked to see the stance you are taking here?? Seems out of character. Just kidding I get the sarcasm.

    Yes, they can add that to the “list” and Michael Moore can make a movie about it.

  15. Mervel says:

    But there have been things that have worked. A basic one is the large increase in border patrol agents along the Mexican Border. They have substantially changed the pattern of smuggling, sure it is still rampant but the border patrol has had a huge impact.

    What has been a big homeland security fraud has been all of the billions in stupid pork barrel grants that were given to all of the states for various worthless projects.

    Homeland security spending should be focused on hot spots and the border. I mean you had states like Wyoming and Alaska getting homeland security funding while NYC fell short.

    It was a political scam.

  16. no slack jack says:

    The soldiers are coming home from Iraq. Send them to the U.S. boarders. They’re home, in our country, and securing our nation from within, not from the Muddled East. Weekend passes to visit their family, home for holidays, swing shifts like a factory.
    If G. W. did this from the start instead of attacking from foriegn soil, he would have been viewed as a hero. He waited too long and then sent National Guard to Arizona and got lambasted.
    Now big O can do the same, with much lesser consequences, the soldiers will need the work and we don’t need the additional unemployed soldiers burdening our job(less) market. What we need is some zero tolerance at the boarders.

  17. Walker says:

    We could save a lot of border patrol trouble (and money) simply by decriminalizing marijuana. And now we’re spending justice department money prosecuting California landowners who rent farmland to people who grow pot if any of it gets out of California, where it becomes illegal. Madness!

    Alcohol prohibition didn’t work in the 1920s, and it ended when “Prohibition became increasingly unpopular during the Great Depression, as the repeal movement, led by conservative Democrats and Catholics, emphasized that repeal would generate enormous sums of much needed tax revenue, and weaken the base of organized crime.” (Wikipedia)

    Perhaps the time has come…

  18. Peter Hahn says:

    We could legalize lots of drugs and Mexico’s drug wars would be over.

    But this particular proposal seems to be more about stopping illegal aliens sneaking in over the Southern border at any cost- another thing the good old GOP is nuts about.

  19. no slack jack says:

    Soldies are probably the lowest paid Government workers there are.
    Illegal imigration has more facets than just marijuana smuggling.
    Alcohol prohibition and Illegal immigration have nothing in common.
    Securing the boarders will start a dominoe effect that will benefit EVERY State.

  20. Walker says:

    Jack, what illegal immigration and marijuanna smuggling have in common is INS agents: we have a lot of border personnel working on drug interdiction who could be dealing with immigration matters instead.

  21. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    To add to Walker’s comment, what’s even more disappointing is that the Obama administration, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, specifically announced early in their tenure that they weren’t going to involve themselves in states that have reformed their marijuana laws.

    As Walker noted, the Justice dept., and by extension, Obama, are now going back on that promise under the guise that some of the marijuana grown and distributed in California is smuggled elsewhere. No kidding? They knew this was going to happen. The easiest and far cheaper way to address this issue is to completely reform the FEDERAL marijuana laws thereby ending this insane drug war. The first step could be to reclassify the drug from its current status as a schedule one drug to what it actually is. In the class of alcohol and tobacco.

    Obama could do this with a stroke of a pen via executive order. At the same time, Congress could actually act on the bill that’s languished in committee for going on two years now that would essentially do the same thing. Which is to say decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. But then again, the security complex and all its ever growing agencies needs as many boogie man’s as possible.

    For a president that vowed to use “science” whenever possible to determine policy, he’s sure dropped the ball with regard to relying on it with regard to marijuana prohibition. The establishment is so afraid of what science already knows that they refuse to even fund studies on the medical potential of cannibus. The latest being the refusal to fund a Veteran’s administration study to determine the potential of cananibinoids (one of the helpful substances in marijuana) to help sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

  22. Two Cents says:

    With an election coming up??? fageddaboutit
    Heres more irony- you live in Manhattan and pot is illegal, cross the GW bridge and Medical weed is Legal.
    I’ve said it before, when the only chance obtaining seeds, or seedlings is to buy them from the Government, then they’ll legalize cultivating it, for a “nominal” license fee, tax stamp and weight limits.
    Rather keep it Illegal, and under the radar.
    Ciggarettes are legal, and just about the only place you can smoke thanks to Government controll. is in on your own couch,(wich would be a bonus concerning pot) but why let them get involved with pot in the first place?
    The fact they have made pot illegal is what drove its THC levels higher than they haver ever been.They have inadvertantly driven the “industry” to what it has become–even better irony.
    Watch “The Botany of Desire” when it’s on P.B.S.

  23. Mervel says:

    We would not save much of anything as far as drug smuggling along the Mexican or Canadian border goes by decriminalizing pot. These cartels are into a variety of criminal enterprises from human trafficing, to cocaine to heroin to kidnapping and so forth. It is not about pot its about money. Pot is just one product that is easily changed for another product.

    I mean I am actually for some form of decriminalization, but we should not have a fantasy that if we decriminalize pot the border smuggling would get better.

    I do think those who smoke pot or use any illegal drugs should consider the number of murders and mass death in Mexico they are contributing to. When you buy coke or pot that started in Mexico you are a partner with the cartels, just the other side of the coin, they have blood on their hands.

  24. Two Cents says:

    Grow locally, buy locally, just like your produce.

  25. Peter Hahn says:

    mervel is right about legalizing pot not fixing the Mexican drug wars. We would have to legalize cocaine and heroine too. Maybe meth. The human trafficking is a different business.

    Getting Americans to stop using drugs is hopeless.

  26. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:


    You may be correct up to a point. But the cost savings resulting from decriminalization of marijuana goes far beyond what you rightly suggest with regard to smuggling. The cost of war on marijuana nationally is estimated to costs several billions of dollars a year when you consider interdiction, prosecution, and incarceration costs combined. But we know cannibus is a huge revenue stream for the cartels so eliminating that revenue stream still hits their bottom line significantly and weakens their ability to smuggle other things like hard drugs, weapons, and even humans.

    With regard to your point about buying their product and thereby being “co-conspirators,” you should know that even the DEA acknowledges that more marijuana is now cultivated and distributed within the United States, by American citizens, than is imported from outside sources, including Mexico. Our nation is now a large exporter of marijuana. As Two Cents hinted at, there’s a VERY large black market of locally grown marijuana right here in the North Country.

    Personally I think individuals should be allowed to cultivate their own product much the same way adults can brew their own beer or make their own wine. It’s the simplest way to decriminalize and eliminate the huge costs of prohibition with regard to marijuana.

  27. Walker says:

    Because decriminalizing marijuana would not by itself end the Mexican drug wars and solve our entire national border problem is not a sufficient reason not to do it. It would, as Clapton points out, weaken the drug cartels, provide a substantial income stream to the federal and state governments, create jobs, save more money in our criminal justice system, etc., etc.

    I probably sound like a major pot head! Haven’t smoked a joint in twenty years.

  28. Mervel says:

    I was just saying that they are separate issues. I am not against decriminalizing pot. I think though the topic was border security not drug policy. There is not much evidence that decriminalizing pot would have a huge impact on the border war and the profits of the Mexican Criminal Cartels. It may have a small impact or a temporary impact but in the long run the impact would not be huge.

    I do think we can have a long term plan to reduce American use of all drugs including alcohol. But simply trying to punish suppliers of drugs won’t work as they are only half of the problem.

  29. Walker says:

    “There is not much evidence that decriminalizing pot would have a huge impact on the border war and the profits of the Mexican Criminal Cartels.”

    Well, yeah. There’s also not much evidence that decriminalizing pot would NOT have a huge impact on the border war and the profits of the Mexican Criminal Cartels. It’s never been tried.

    But if you think about it for five minutes, it’s hard to imagine that it wouldn’t help, maybe substantially. What if you took tax revenue from legalizing pot and directed it to stopping illegal immigration and other drug smuggling efforts? Increased tax revenue was one of the primary reasons that Prohibition was ended.

  30. Mervel says:

    No not really; many experts on how the cartels operate have concluded that ending one product offering among many would not have a huge impact on the levels of violence and smuggling.

    Mexican Cartels deal in criminality, pot is only one product; so yes they would have to make some adjustments in the business model, but not large adjustments, cocaine is very profitable. If you legalized all drugs they would still have products to offer, one of the main products being human slavery and human smuggling in general. So border security is not going to be greatly impacted by whatever drug of the week we choose to legalize.

    We need to really secure the borders as most other industrialized countries have done, if you can’t secure your border you have failed at a very basic level as a government and as a nation. However I personally think the way to do that is to pretty much allow whoever can apply for and obtain employment in the US to be able to come to the US and legally work. If this was done we could focus our efforts on the minority of people who are using the border for smuggling and illegal activities. Make the current guest worker program much much easier for starters. Our dairy farmers should be able to easily and legally hire guest workers to fill positions that they cannot fill locally (which are most of their positions).

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