Great Falls Tribune: House measure would expand Homeland Security powers, waive environmental laws

A controversial bill that would give the Department of Homeland Security unprecedented authority over federal lands within 100 miles of the United States’ border is making its way through Congress.

The proposed measure, called the “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act,” would let Homeland Security waive 36 major federal environmental protection laws in order to facilitate border patrol activities on public lands.

Supporters of the bill say it would give U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents more control in securing the nation’s borders. Opponents argue that the measure is overly broad and would give Homeland Security unchecked authority to disregard major environmental laws on public lands, including wilderness areas, national parks and wildlife refuges among others.

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