A Utah congressman said that a recent article in al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine highlights the need to pass a bill that would prohibit the secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from taking actions on public lands that interfere with border security.
The article urges followers to pick a prime spot to ignite wildfires in the U.S. “It is difficult to choose a better place other than in the valleys of Montana where the population increases rapidly,” Inspire’s “AQ Chef” columnist writes.
“Is it possible for us to cause a similar destructive impact using a similar weapon?” the article muses of Australia’s massive wildfires in 1983 and 2002.
Federal agencies responded with calls for vigilance. But Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), sponsor of the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, said it shows that the threat of terrorism needs to be confronted on public lands.
“Opponents of H.R. 1505 have set out to misrepresent the facts of the legislation,” Bishops said. “To be clear, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act was introduced to address the limitations placed on the U.S. Border Patrol’s access to public lands located throughout the border region.”
“It importantly gives the U.S. Border Patrol the access they need to apprehend and deter dangerous criminals using public lands for illegal entry into the U.S.,” he added. “It’s no secret that public lands located throughout the northern and southern U.S. border region provide the greatest accessibility for criminals. H.R. 1505 will address security gaps on both borders and provide greater security in areas where we need it most- our public lands.”
Opponents charge that the bill guts environmental laws by giving security agencies free reign to conduct operation. Homeland Security would be exempt the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and many other environmental laws.
The bill has 59 co-sponsors and strong Republican support, and has been placed on the union calendar.