Horde of New Federal Agency Rules
Triggers 'Police State' Accusations
|A proposal by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to increase its police powers in the West triggered a torrent of protest this week in Nevada's Elko County and the state of Idaho.|
Amid charges that the BLM was seeking a "police state," the federal agency agreed to extend until February 5 the comment period on the proposed new regulations. The originally announced deadline had been January 6.
Entered in the Federal Register on November 7 -- two days after the election -- but only brought to widespread public attention this week, the new rules were explained by the BLM as a consolidation of existing regulations "which are often difficult to understand" or which "are no longer applicable."
However, critics charged -- and a BLM law enforcement official acknowledged -- that at least some of the "consolidated" or "plain English" regulations were in fact new.
While BLM Deputy Chief of Law Enforcement Dennis McLane -- speaking from the bureau's national Inter Agency Fire Center, in Boise, Idaho -- denied the agency was attempting to expand its underlying authority or add law enforcement personnel, he did say that the agency was expanding the number of things it was prohibiting.
"In some instances in this rule-making there are a few new prohibited acts," he
said. "But ...
those are subject to public review, [a] public comment
period, and [people are] allowed to give us feedback on
whether we should or should not regulate that
conduct searches and
arrests without a warrant or probable cause.
representatives include language in the proposed rules regarding use of firearms on BLM lands and enforcement of laws pertaining to the use of alcohol and controlled substances, normally under the jurisdiction of the state.
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