Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bilbray Prefers Fence over Environment, District, Effective Reform

Does anybody remember when Brian Bilbray sold himself as a moderate? I know it seems like a lifetime ago (or maybe some sort of absurd dream), but it was just 1995 that he first went to Congress. And I've heard the stories from reasonable people with clear eyes about how once he was (relatively) a champion of the environment, particularly clean beaches and water. He was (and perhaps still is) a surfer and lifeguard after all. And yet, it's not at all surprising that he was doing rhetorical backflips in celebration yesterday when Homeland Security decided to waive 30 federal and state environmental laws in order to more quickly build 670 miles of border fence:

"It's great. This is the priority area where most of the illegal activity is going on and where most of the deaths are occurring," said Rep. Brian P. Bilbray (R-Solana Beach), chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus. "The quicker we can get the physical fence up, the sooner we'll avoid situations like the deaths of agents. And it's still a national security issue. You just have to stop this kind of open traffic along the border."
DHS head Michael Chertoff opted to blatantly lie about the situation, claiming:

DHS is neither compromising its commitment to responsible environmental stewardship nor its commitment to solicit and respond to the needs of state, local and tribal governments
Right. Because not adhering to existing environmental law is the same as being commited to it. Much closer to the truth is:

Critics, however, said the waivers were intended to sidestep growing and unexpectedly fierce opposition -- especially in Arizona and in Texas, where concerns have been raised about endangered species and fragile ecosystems along the Rio Grande.
While the section of this project in East San Diego County hasn't met with much opposition (yet?), Brian Bilbray should know- if he's been paying any attention at all- that local opposition to the destruction of communities and habitats can be a real pain in the ass for right-wing ideologues. And as proponents of comprehensive (read: effective) immigration reform note, just building a fence really is a simple-minded approach to securing the border. Nevermind that impeding the cross-border flow hurts the local economy and the people that Bilbray purports to represent. This "wall or bust" outlook from Bilbray fits nicely with his America should create more uneducated poor people economic plan and his Protect the employer (as long as they contribute to the campaign) enforcement policy.

Yesterday the Defenders of Wildlife sent around an email asking people to call their representatives in Congress. If you're in the 50th, where Brian Bilbray thinks it's politically astute in 2008 to run to the right of President Bush, you may want to just skip straight to your Senators.

Cheryl Ede and Nick Leibham are Democrats running against Brian Bilbray this year.

Cross posted at Calitics

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