by Countable | 8.2.17
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Tuesday that it will use the broad authority granted to it by Congress to waive a host of environmental and land management laws standing in the way of building the border wall.
DHS is moving forward with building border wall prototypes near San Diego, likely to begin construction in November. According to the Tuesday statement, the current projects will be confined to "an approximately 15-mile segment of the border within the San Diego Sector that starts at the Pacific Ocean and extends eastward." The department maintains that the border near San Diego “remains an area of high illegal entry for which there is an immediate need to improve current infrastructure and construct additional border barriers and roads.”
Opponents, including the Center for Biological Diversity and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, argue that there are 93 endangered species potentially affected by the construction of the border wall, including jaguars, Mexican gray wolves and, in the case of the San Diego section, Quino checkerspot butterflies and the coastal California gnatcatcher.
The San Diego Tribune also notes the proximity to residential areas that would be affected as well:
"Homeland Security had already identified a site for border wall prototype construction roughly 100 feet from the border and about two miles east of the Otay Mesa border crossing. It is across from a mixed-use industrial and low-income residential area in East Tijuana, near the Nido de las Águilas neighborhood."
Grijalva and the Center filed suit against the administration last month, alleging the administration failed to perform an environmental study to analyze the impact of slicing delicate ecosystems in half. Even they acknowledge, however, that given current law DHS is within their authority to bypass the usual environmental steps. Brian Segee, a senior attorney for the Center told the Washington Post:
"It’s an uphill battle...It’s a very broad waiver…[the Center] will definitely pursue any judicial avenues we have available to us however limited they may be.”
Grijalva and the Center are joined in their opposition by Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA), who feels that the project is not indicative of what the local community needs or wants:
"Waiving these laws shows the Trump administration intends to drown out the opposition from Democrats, Republicans, business owners, and immigration advocates in San Diego that see another layer of fencing in our county as unnecessary and harmful to our community."
In their statement DHS did not address local opposition, but they did offer assurances that they would work with authorities to mitigate the impacts of the project:
"While the waiver eliminates DHS’s obligation to comply with various laws with respect to covered projects, the Department remains committed to environmental stewardship with respect to these projects. DHS has been coordinating and consulting -- and intends to continue doing so -- with other federal and state resource agencies to ensure impacts to the environment, wildlife, and cultural and historic artifacts are analyzed and minimized, to the extent possible.”
Whether or not the current environmental suit succeeds, it will likely be followed by similar suits as wall construction proceeds. The Trump budget proposal plans for the wall to extend through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, along the Rio Grande in Texas. The Refuge is home to multiple endangered species, including the the Texas ocelot and Gulf Coast jaguarundi.
Do you support construction of the border wall? Do you think the government should have to slow down the project to fully assess the potential environmental impact on animals and humans?
Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)
Written by Countable
I know it doesn't matter what I say. This idiot is going to build this wall and destroy our environment and our relationship with Mexico while he's at it. And I'm paying for it. Someone has to muster some courage and invoke the 25th amendment and get 45 out of the White House, which he calls a "dump". I'm embarrassed by him and his actions. No one in their right mind can continue to support this fool. Do something!
The Trump administration's willingness to discard environmental protections to advance the construction of an unnecessary wall is a disgrace.
This is outrageous there are less people entering and there are so many other things that could use the money for such as VA has staff shortages. Meals on wheels, Social Security, schools - many that are so needy - Trump just wants a win and doesn't study the ramifications of his impulsive selfish decisions
I am so disgusted with our Legislative and executive branches. We don't need that wall. That money could be used to help our veterans , and the homeless. Quit placating our twitter in chief. The wall won't stop illegal immigrants. Where there is a will there is a way. We need to enforce our laws NOT BUILD A WALL. Use OUR MONEY responsibly
We must guard the environment, our planet. We only get one.
Please do not build this wall. It is environmentally unsound and an unnecessary waste of taxpayers money. The funds being spent for this monstrosity could purchase health insurance for every American. It is borne out of hatred and short sighted power.
I don't support the construction of the border wall. This government need to slow down to protect fully the environmental impact on animals and humans.
This is not okay. If these endangered species die out, they cannot be replaced. This should be taken into account and worked around. Trump is so determined to get his wall, he doesn't care who or what he hurts. Please help save these animals!
Do NOT build this wall. It is not economically sound and poses hazards to the environment. I do not want my tax dollars going toward this absurdity.
Stop this madness! Any kind of wall will hurt wildlife in both countries! This is a total upset to all ecosystems!
Another waste of taxpayer's money to build a useless wall just to please a fascist base.
WE DO NOT WANT THIS STUPID WALL!!! (EVEN IF Mexico paid for it)
First off we need to save our environment at all costs. Second if congress can find the money to fund this ridiculous wall then they can find the money to help the American people with Medicare for all! Congress has their priorities wrong!!
Please, don't let the Administration make our country a joke, especially at the expense of the environment.
Waiving environmental laws and permitting for a border wall is piling wrong on top of wrong.
It is totally irresponsible to ignore nature and the environment to build a wall the American people DO NOT WANT!! Your party will pay a huge price in 2018 and I will cheer the demise.
This disgusts me; the act negates the importance of not only the environment and native animals, but also brotherhood and camaraderie among men.
This is absolutely outrageous. The mere thought of compromising ecosystems and environments for a "wall" is so asinine it's astonishing. I am embarrassed that this is even being considered as a course of action.
The all out assault on the environment and all nonhuman life is what I find most disgusting of all about 45, Pruitt, Zinke, and the rest of "45's Swamp of Billionaires"!!!
It was leaked recently that the whole wall idea was created to help Trump while speaking publicly because couldn't stay focused on issues that mattered to his base while campaigning. We are all wasting our hard earned tax money because our president doesn't have sufficient attention span. This won't help us as Americans in any way and we all know it. When your grandmother no longer gets Meals on wheels so she has enough to eat on a fixed income, when your child's education suffers because schools don't have enough money, etc, I sure hope that wall makes you feel better, Mr. Trump.