Policy Update Jul 26, 2017

Position on H.R. 3219, Make America Secure Appropriations Act

NPCA submitted the following position to the House of Representatives ahead of an expected floor vote on July 26, 2017.

NPCA urges members to support our nation’s public lands and national heritage by considering our position on several amendments to and provisions in the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018 (H.R. 3219). NPCA urges members to vote against the underlying bill.

Clean Water

NPCA opposes Sec. 108 in Division D, the Energy and Water Development and related Agencies Appropriations Act. This provision allows the Trump administration to repeal the Clean Water Rule without public comment or support. Under this provision, the Clean Water Rule could be withdrawn regardless of the scientific evidence demonstrating the connectivity of our waters. There would be no requirement for public comment nor would it prevent the administration from making arbitrary or capricious decisions. Even more undemocratic is replacing the current deliberative process with a simple repeal cutting out longstanding practices under the Administrative Procedures Act, which require public engagement.

Amendments in the first Rule

Beyer/Esty Amendment (Division D, #4) – Strike the Clean Water Rule rider NPCA supports this amendment because it strikes Sec. 108 thereby protecting the ability the American people to have a voice in how best to protect our water resources.

Pingree, Carbajal, Bonamici, Langevin, Lowenthal, Ciciline, Schneider Amendment (Division D, #63) – Protecting our National Ocean Policy The National Park System protects some of the nation’s most beautiful coastlines and islands. NPCA supports this amendment that would allow for implementation of components of the National Ocean Policy to help ensure our coastal parks, local communities, and other stakeholders can plan for healthy coastlines and strong economies.

Amendments anticipated in the second Rule

Carter Amendment (Division E, #2) – Oppose the border wall NPCA opposes the added $1.6 billion requested for the continued construction of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to a 2017 GAO report, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) does not have metrics to determine the border fencing’s impact on diverting illegal entries or apprehension rates over time. CBP should be looking for a comprehensive approach to border security, rather than funding a tool that is divisive, unverified and potentially damaging to national park units and other sensitive public lands.

Six national parks are located along the border and existing pedestrian fencing in some of those parks has shown the negative impact these barriers can have. For example, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona experienced a flood in 2008. Debris caught in the pedestrian fence pushed the high-water mark seven feet up the fence and flooded businesses in the port of entry town of Lukeville, in addition to leaving behind silt and debris that damaged the natural habitat. Under the added provision from Representative Carter (TX-31), new border infrastructure can be built without environmental review and therefore it is unlikely future construction would alleviate these types of issues.

The current request includes 50 miles of levee border wall in the South Texas Rio Grande Valley—32 miles of which is slated to be built in the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is home to diverse wildlife species, ecotourism opportunities, and rich natural beauty. Funds should not be allocated to build a wall that has not been proven effective at its primary goal, while having significant negative impacts on the environment and local communities.