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June 18, 2012

Anti-Conservation Bill, H.R. 2578, Guts Critical Laws Protecting Clean Air, Water, and Special Lands

Title XIV removes protection from millions of acres of public lands across the nation.


                    Matt Skroch, Executive Director, Arizona Wilderness Coalition: 520-247-1754

                    Kate Mackay, Deputy Director, Arizona Wilderness Coalition: 602-571-2603

**UPDATE**This massive anti-conservation bill passed the House of Representatives late on Tuesday, June 19th, by a vote of 232 - 188. Nineteen Republicans voted against the measure, and 16 Democrats voted for it, including Arizona's newest elected House member, Ron Barber, who is filling in for former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

PHOENIX—This week, the House of Representatives will vote on a devastating bill package that would give operational control of all of America’s public lands to one agency: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). H.R. 2578, the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, contains a provision (Title XIV) that would suspend 36 environmental and public health laws outright, including the The Wilderness Act, Clean Water Act, and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, within 100 miles of U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada.  In Arizona, Saguaro National Park, the Chiricahua Wilderness, and Organ Pipe Cactus National Park fall on the chopping block.

“H.R. 2578 and its components take a butcher’s knife to dozens of our nation’s laws that have provided Arizona with clean water, air, and healthy land for decades and in some cases, since our statehood,” says Matt Skroch, AWC’s executive director.  “Given that CBP hasn’t asked for this over-reaching authority and has spoken against its ramifications, we can see H.R. 2578 for what it is – the ultimate end-run around our public lands laws.”  For how to take action on this bill and ask your representative to VOTE NO on H.R. 2578, click here.

Under H.R. 2578 and Title XIV, the CBP would have immediate access to develop roads and infrastructure on more than 600 million acres of national parks, monuments, Indian reservations, wilderness, wildlife refuges, and other lands managed by U.S. Departments of Interior (DOI) and Agriculture (USDA), anywhere in the country.  For details on the map at left and lands at risk from Title XIV in the bill, click here and visit our partner website of the Pew Environment Group.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security does not support this legislation, and a recent General Accounting Office report concluded that current federal laws do not impede border protection. The bill, reported out of the House Natural Resources Committee in April, is poised for debate and votes on the House floor.

“Border security and conservation can, and must, co-exist,” says Kate Mackay, deputy director with AWC. “DHS and the Department of the Interior are working on these two issues and coming up with mutually beneficial solutions every day. Unfortunately some lawmakers are ignoring on-the-ground agency expertise and spreading fear and misinformation to move their anti-conservation agenda.”

AWC has strongly condemned the bill since its first incarnation last year, which shares similar intent with Senate-led bill, S.B.803, sponsored by Senators McCain, Kyl, and Rubio.  Both bills take land management responsibilities away from our nation’s land managers, particularly National Park, National Forest, and Bureau of Land Management agencies.  This, in combination with the indefinite dismantling of countless laws intended to protect American’s quality of life, health, and safety, these “border enforcement” bills needlessly pit the integrity of our nation’s natural resources against national security. 



The Arizona Wilderness Coalition’s mission is to permanently protect and restore wilderness and other wild lands and waters in Arizona for the enjoyment of all citizens and to ensure that Arizona's native plants and animals have a lasting home in wild nature.


Map above: Pew Environment Group/Pew Charitable Trusts




-Arizona Wilderness Coalition mission statement