By Anne Lavoie
No, I am not referring to Janis Joplin's great band (for those of you of a certain age who remember them.) I am referring to our federal government, Big Brother, and the corporate cabal that has a stranglehold on almost everything that has economic value in our country, the Holding Company. I like the definition I found that describes a Holding Company as 'a parent corporation that owns enough voting stock in another corporation to control its board of directors and, therefore, controls its policies and management'. It fits the description of corporate control of our government, from Congress to the Presidency.
Just when you thought it couldn't get much worse in our country, the plot sickens. There is a bill that was introduced in April by Republicans in Congress, HR 1505, otherwise known as the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act (NSFLPA). This bill merges the two in a new and insidiously powerful way. Janis would be screaming out, not in song, but in outrage as I am.
This bill is a pure power and land grab that also takes away our freedoms, rights, and protections. I consider it a corporate power grab because The Holding Company doesn't just call the shots in Washington, but owns and controls nearly the whole show, providing unknown numbers of private contractors conducting military, national security, guard, prison, surveillance, and border control related functions among others. The numbers are unknown because of they are hidden behind the veil of national security secrecy. Here is what this bill proposes to do:
Under the guise of national and border security, and in order to eliminate pesky obstacles such as environmental laws, this bill gives to Homeland Security (and its innumerable private contractors) waivers for a whole list of environmental laws which allows them to trump management of these lands by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture and gives DHS unfettered access and control without ANY public accountability. Officials in both Interior and Agriculture are opposed, but they are not elected officials, so they really have no clout, and as we saw when they spoke out strongly against allowing loaded weapons in National Parks, Congress passed it anyway and Obama signed off.
With the adoption of this bill, a total of 36 environmental laws would be waived affecting federal, state, and private lands, including coastlines. They include, among others, the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Wilderness Act, Antiquities Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Solid Waste Disposal Act, etc. Rather than kill each pesky law individually, they are simply waiving them all, for the sake of security of course.
Oh, but I'm still building up to the worst parts. The power, control, and authority they wish to give to Homeland Security over federal lands would encompass all the land within a 100 mile swath around the entire United States, including the coasts, not just borders with Mexico and Canada. A map of the area can be found here. You've got to see it to believe it. The area covered would even encompass the entirety of ten states and large portions of most of the others.
The bill gives the Secretary of Homeland Security immediate access to any public land managed by the federal government within this area. They would be able to conduct activities that 'assist in securing the border', including access to, maintaining, and constructing roads, constructing fences, using patrol vehicles, and setting up monitoring and surveillance equipment. Patrol vehicles are not just trucks, but would probably include helicopters, drones, and any other technological marvel, such as those butterfly cameras that look and fly like the real thing. Homeland Security wouldn't have to consult with tribal communities or even private landowners before entering the areas either.
This is somewhat familiar to me. I saw what has happened to Organ Pipe National Monument, on the Arizona/Mexico border, even back in the early 2000's. After paying to get into this national park, we found that areas of it were closed to the public for security reasons. The following year, even more area was closed off.
There was even an incident where a couple of our hiking club friends in their 80's were stopped by a helicopter that landed near the trail they were on and the camouflaged and heavily armed Border Patrol agents interrogated them. They did not show up to stop the hundreds of Mexicans we saw hiking openly across the desert every day, probably because it would be too much work. They preferred flying around in a helicopter in full combat gear, harassing elderly hikers. So I saw firsthand what happens when they get the authority to take over an area.
I always thought they'd try to steal the public lands by privatization, but never did it occur to me that they would use a reverse and twisted form of eminent domain for phony security reasons. Now they call them 'federal' rather than 'public' lands, and they no longer want to be mere stewards of our lands but prefer total and unaccountable control.
I consider our public lands, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas in particular, very special places that nourish the body and soul. Some I consider sacred, particularly our beloved Glacier National Park that sits entirely within their proposed 100 mile area of control. I am sure the long range plan is to open all those areas for resource development since they will be building all those convenient roads on the taxpayer dime, making them shovel ready for development, and environment laws will conveniently no longer apply.
|Glacier National Park|
Republican Congressmen want to help Big Brother for the benefit of their partner in crime, The Holding Company. Unfortunately, with everyone on both sides of the aisle in on the act and bought off by lobbyists, this thing could pass with both parties' help. If that should happen, everything they do on the federal lands encompassed by this bill could be kept secret and immune from court review. What more could they ask for? Oh, maybe 200 miles, or the whole country, for security reasons of course.