House approves waiver of border environmental laws
By MATTHEW DALY Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Republican-controlled House has approved a bill that would allow the Border Patrol to circumvent more than a dozen environmental laws on all federally managed lands within 100 miles of the borders with Mexico and Canada.
Supporters said the measure approved Tuesday is needed to give border agents unfettered access to rugged lands now controlled by the Interior Department and Forest Service. Environmental laws often prevent agents from driving vehicles on huge swaths of land, leaving it to wildlife, illegal immigrants and smugglers who can walk through the territory undisturbed, they said.
The measure's chief sponsor, Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, said restrictions on federal lands have turned wilderness areas into highways for criminals, who not only bring in drugs but abuse and rape women and leave tons of trash.
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