Hon. Darrell Issa
United State House of Representatives
2347 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
February 13, 2011
Re: How to save some taxpayer money and create more jobs
Dear Congressman Issa:
If there is ever an opportunity, I’d love for you and members of your Committee to visit southern Arizona and hold a hearing on two issues—border security and the Endangered Species Act.
Recently the Department of Homeland Security agreed to give US Fish and Wildlife $50 million so Fish & Wildlife could study (among other things) bats. This interagency agreement was for “mitigation” of the impacts of building the border fence.
There are numerous examples of one federal agency…such as the US Bureau of Reclamation…getting nailed for funds to support US Fish & Wildlife’s activities under the Endangered Species Act.
While no doubt you have heard much about how the Endangered Species Act is costing jobs in this country, it is also a means of extortion between USF&W against other federal agencies. Thus funds Congress thinks it is appropriating for things like a border fence end up being diverted to bat studies.
We recently also had a situation in southern Arizona where the state…under a mandate from USF&W, was going to pour Rotenone in a stream above the Town of Patagonia’s well field to kill exotic fish to endangered species fish could be transplanted. Funding for that scheme came by way of USF&W getting millions from the Bureau of Reclamation and the state’s Central Arizona Water Conservation District because the construction and operation of the Central Arizona Project might result in exotic fish escaping the CAP canals and eating up native fish. Fortunately our state legislative Republicans put a quick halt to the Rotenone scheme.
Besides the huge costs and delays being imposed on both the private sector and other government agencies by the Endangered Species Act, there is a racket going on whereby environmental groups sue federal agencies for failure to comply with the ESA, and they get huge amounts of legal fees from US taxpayers under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA)..
The ESA need some revisions to not open the door to dubious species listing petitions and habitat conservation plan demands which overwhelm Department of Interior and puts them in a position of default and payment of legal fees to petitioning groups.
No one is sure exactly how much federal agencies such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife and others have paid under EAJA to environmental groups such as Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watershed Project and Earth Guardians…but we’re probably looking at hundreds of millions of dollars here.
Would be very interesting to get agencies sued under the ESA and the EIS programs to disclose how many suits have been filed, and how much each agency has paid out under EAJA.
Finally on border security…there is a major overlap down here with ranchers being chased off their land by US Fish and Wildlife and the Forest Service under the guise of the ESA, and the ranches being overrun by Mexican drug cartel gunmen armed with automatic weapons.
It is as if the ranchers have drug smugglers shooting at them from one side, and radical environmentalists from the other.
The core issue on border security is we have over 3,000 Border Patrol agents here in the Tucson Sector (about 300 miles of border) but a whole lot of them are 20..30…60…100 miles from the border driving around in their trucks trying to catch undocumented aliens and illegal drugs after the fact of crossing the border.
You can visit on the ranches and see where the fence ends and how the drugs and illegal immigrants have a free pass into the United States.
There has been a campaign down here called “Secure the border at the border” which basically asked the Border Patrol to concentrate their assets at the border and make it impossible for illegal drugs or illegal immigrants to even cross. For whatever reasons, the Border Patrol and their bosses at Department of Homeland Security are resisting deploying the agents at the border in sufficient numbers to deter illegal entry and smuggling.
We have a murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and a murdered rancher to show for the lack of the United States’ ability to secure our border. More deaths are likely as long as the Border Patrol is not mandated to secure our border.
Maybe in the next appropriation bill Congress could limit 90% of the Border Patrol agent deployment to 10 or 20 miles from the border.
Meanwhile, to actually secure some of the border down here new roads will be needed in what are proposed to be new Wilderness Areas, a federal wildlife refuge (Buenos Aires) is overrun with drug smugglers and illegal aliens and if anyone gets serious about extending the fence and roads…more money will probably be taken from Homeland Security’s budget to study the bats even more.
Projects to Benefit Environment on the Southwest Border
Contact: CBP Public Affairs (202)344-1780
DOI Public Affairs (202) 208-6476
Washington, DC– The U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have completed the first InterAgency Agreement under the 2009 Memorandum of Agreement to fund environmental mitigation projects that will benefit several species of fish and wildlife affected by border security projects in the Southwest. Signed September 28, the agreement will fund $6.8 million in projects and represents the first of a series of efforts designed to mitigate impacts from the construction of fencing and other security measures along the U.S. Border with Mexico.
“CBP is committed to protecting our country’s natural resources and wildlife while performing our security mission,” said CBP Deputy Commissioner, David Aguilar. “CBP is responsible for sound environmental stewardship and energy conservation as an integral part of their mission activities.”
“The projects we are announcing today are, in effect, part of a down payment on mitigating the impact on wildlife and its habitat from the on-going effort to secure our southern border,” Assistant Secretary Rhea Suh said. “In the future, we will continue to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to fund new projects that ensure threatened and endangered species and other wildlife along the border are conserved and the fragile ecosystems they depend upon are protected.”
The initial mitigation projects include funding to restore habitat for lesser long-nosed bats in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona; re-establish the Aplomado falcon in New Mexico; install a fish barrier at San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona to preclude competition with invasive species; study movement of bighorn sheep in California; survey and monitor jaguars and their habitat in Arizona.
Customs and Border Protection is funding these projects under a 2009 Memorandum of Agreement between CBP and the Department of the Interior for mitigation of unavoidable impacts to natural and cultural resources due to construction of border security infrastructure. Under this agreement, CBP will fund DOI up to $50 million over the next few years for mitigation needs.
Over the past three years, CBP has constructed about 670 miles of fence along the southwest border as an integral part of the nation’s strategy to improve border security. CBP has committed to responsible environmental stewardship throughout the life-cycle of the tactical infrastructure, from construction through operations and maintenance.
The First Mitigation Projects:
a. Sasabe Biological Opinion Arizona $2,119,000
b. Organ Pipe Cactus NM Biological Opinion Arizona $980,000
c. San Bernardino Valley Mitigation Arizona $657,480
d. Rio Yaqui Fish Studies Arizona $441,250
e. Peninsular Bighorn Sheep Study California $230,000
f. Coronado NM Agave Restoration Arizona $274,873
g. Northern Aplomado Falcon Reintroduction and Habitat Restoration New Mexico $499,700
h. Border-wide Bat Conservation Arizona $925,000