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Border Insecurity

I don’t really consider myself especially paranoid, but I just spent a few minutes scrolling through thousands of pages of an interesting document titled the “Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Northern Border Activities” by the Department of Homeland Security. I am now writing this under a blanket in a dark corner of my basement with all the lights turned off.

DHS, CBP Area of Responsibility. Look familiar?

And I’m not the only one; “Some northern Idaho residents are concerned about proposals by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to make the border area more secure”. The document outlines alternatives for your protection on roughly 200,000 square miles of public and private lands along the northern border. This is the area for which cunning old Dennis Rehberg plans to give federal cops unfettered access regardless of land ownership, state or federal laws, or environmental consequences with H.R. 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act. According to Rehberg, “It’s time to put an end to the dangerous turf war where federal land managers hide behind environmental laws in order to prevent border patrol agents from doing their jobs on federal land.”

Just what is their job on over 200,000 square miles? It’s kinda hard to pick out responsibilities in the typical bureaucratese of the document. Just the Executive Summary contains eleven pages of abbreviations, but it seems that DHS and CBP would like to conduct CMMI along the entire border without being hindered by the CFR, ESA, EPA, MBTA, MT, MTFWP, MEPA or NEPA.

H.R. 1505 gives DHS the ability to implement their preferred alternatives regardless of state or federal laws or environmental protections. What are some of the alternatives that DHS would like to implement? How about fences, moats, roads, guard towers, and electronic security within a hundred miles of the Canadian border. Some of these alternatives just sound awfully familiar for some reason…

Not Roosville, at least not yet.

Of course we are assured by Representative Rehberg, that DHS would act responsibly if given unrestricted access to do whatever the Hell they want on your land. “We built in protections for grazing rights and more narrowly focused the intent of the law on efforts to secure the border.” Grazing rights? Just what the heck do they want to do up there that would affect what cows eat?

Direct adverse impacts to wetland habitats and plant communities could result from soil erosion, sedimentation and hydrologic alteration due to road, culvert or road construction projects. Roads near riparian corridors pose a risk to riparian habitat quality and population structure. Roads can route sediment into water bodies, fragment aquatic habitat creating barriers to migration, and provide vectors for aquatic nuisance species and hazardous materials. Additionally, roads can allow access to riparian areas for livestock leading to widespread degradation of stream banks, in-channel aquatic habitat, and riparian vegetation.

Ah, I get it! Cows will be able to use the new regulation-free roads through national parks to access “improved” grazing areas. Sometimes Rehberg just makes it way too easy to prove that he dwells in a reality-enhanced world apart from the rest of us. Why should the Border Patrol not have to deal with all those pesky regulations that we normal peons are forced to deal with every day? After all, it’s us that they are trying to protect from the hoards of unwashed hippies backpacking B.C. Bud across the border. He just wants to protect us. That’s why he voted to cut $350 million from border security earlier this year and voted to cut by $31m, the office which detects attempts to import, possess, store, develop, or transport nuclear or radiological material for use against the Nation.

If you have a couple of months to spare, I recommend that you glance through some of the stuff that the government wants to do to enhance our national border with our best and most secure trading partner to the north. “The Tactical Security Infrastructure Deployment Alternative would focus on constructing additional barriers, access roads and related facilities.” In a world where they can track your cell phone to within five yards, in a world where we can deploy predator drones thousands of miles away to kill and maim American-born terrorists abroad, and they can read your license plate from outer space, is it really necessary to put up more fences and dig ditches to make it harder for me to get to the ski hill in Fernie just to stem the growing tide of illegal immigrants from Alberta? Do we really need to put billions into pissing off the only good neighbor we have left? “Probably half the people I know don’t go to Canada anymore,” said Johnna Exner, a Washington state resident. “It’s too much of a hassle.”

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