The House of Representatives just set rules for debate on H.R. 2578, the "Conservation and Economic Growth Act," meaning it will come to the floor for a vote. (Every single bill currently proposed in the House must be titled with the words “economic growth” or “jobs” or both. If it doesn’t, the bill is put out on the Capitol steps and abandoned, where it sings doleful songs to passing children.)
Sorry. Got sidetracked.
Among 2,578 other things having to do directly or vaguely with land management, H.R. 2578 establishes a 100-mile zone within the borders of the United States in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection is given a free hand. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) thinks these measures are so important that DHS head Janet Napolitano deemed the effort "unnecessary" and "bad policy."
House Democrats, who oppose the measure, have labeled the 100-mile area the "Drone Zone," creating a website outfitted with intern-crafted, Twilight Zone-style graphics of a Predator drone sort of hovering over middle America. You are meant to be scared by this. As we mentioned yesterday, drones are the go-to bogeyman these days, the barely visible eye-in-the-sky that is taking out terrorists in Afghanistan and Yemen. (The "taking out" is not confirmed by the government; the term "terrorists" is not always supported by the evidence.) So, yeah, Drone Zone. Look out, America! Fine.
Here's what else H.R. 2578 would do: waive the application of each of the following laws [PDF] on any public land in that area.