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Conservation and Economic Growth Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. NAPOLITANO. Mr. Chairman, I thank the ranking member on the committee for allowing me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak in opposition to H.R. 2578, the Republican lands package. Specifically, I do oppose title XIV, which is H.R. 1565 of H.R. 2578, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act.

This legislation creates a 100-mile--as explained by Mr. Markey--from the north border and 100 miles from the south border inland. You might call it operational control, or if you want to call it drone zone, it still waives over 36 landmark laws to give Homeland Security complete operational control and immediate access to these lands.

Some of these 36 laws that would be suspended in all or part of the 18 States affected would include the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, hazardous waste laws, tribal preservation law, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the National Park Service Organic Act. This legislation overreaches in waiving dozens of environmental laws disguised as a solution for immigration reform. Guess again.

I was born and raised in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. My hometown is within this Operational Control Zone, or drone zone, if you want to call it that. I am currently the ranking member of the Water and Power Subcommittee, with jurisdiction over the Bureau of Reclamation, and several of the projects owned and operated by Reclamation are in this drone zone. There is concern about how the projects could be managed or mismanaged and its impact in this zone.

Title XIV, which also includes Canada, would disrupt longstanding treaty agreements between the United States and Mexico, and again with Canada, on how we manage our water and power resources. And, of course, the drought planning for the Colorado River.

The projects are part of the Colorado River basin system, like Reclamation's Yuma desalting plant, and are also in the drone zone. One thousand miles of canal and related water delivery infrastructure that provides for a $5 billion economy--$5 billion for the States of Arizona and California--would be compromised as they are in this drone zone.

The proposed legislation will also impede Reclamation from meeting its mission requirements in water delivery obligations pursuant to the 1944 treaty between the U.S. and Mexico on the use of the Colorado and Tijuana rivers, and the Rio Grande. Title XIV also impacts the United States' ability to negotiate with Canada regarding the Columbia River. In fact, several projects of the Federal Columbia River power system in Washington State and Montana are in this operating zone. Water has no international boundary. This is a blatant attack on the environment, on the lives of American citizens, and it threatens their health and safety.

We strongly believe that compliance with laws and regulations is key to ensuring the rights of borderland landowners so rural communities are protected. Ensuring the security of America's borders is an important goal. This bill will not enhance our Nation's border security and will do great harm to our borders and our environment.

I urge my colleagues to vote against H.R. 2578. I have a list of 54 organizations in opposition, and I would like just a moment to read some of them--my colleague has already mentioned the Latino organization:

Alaska Wilderness League; American Civil Liberties Union; BorderLinks; California Coastal Commission; Center for Biological Diversity; Citizens for a Safe and Secure Border; Citizens for Border Solution; Coastal States Organization; Cochise County Chapter Progressive Democrats of America; Defenders of Wildlife; Earthjustice; Equality Alliance of San Diego County; Escondido Human Rights Committee; Green Valley Samaritans; Klamath Forest Alliance; Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; League of Conservation Voters; Hispanic National Bar Association; National Estuarine Research Reserve Association; National Parks Conservation Association; National Resources Defense Council; No More Deaths Tucson; Northern Alaska Environmental Center; San Diego Foundation for Change; Southern Border Communities Coalition; and the list goes on.


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