Trump administration is bypassing several environmental laws to expedite the project of construction of a border wall in southern California. The federal appeals court also supported it by ruling in favor of the administration on Monday.
For constructing a border wall, the Department of Homeland Security issued a waiver to waive many Federal laws, regulations, and other legal requirements to quicken the construction of barriers and roads surrounding the international border near San Diego. The waiver includes the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Antiquities Act and many more.
Earlier A federal judge in San Diego ruled that the Trump administration can waive a slew of environmental laws and other regulations to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall in California which was highly vaunted by the president. In a 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also affirmed the same ruling that under the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has broad authority to waive statutes like the Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act and many more environmental rules to build the border wall.
Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote in the majority opinion, “Because the projects are statutorily authorized and DHS has waived the environmental laws California and the environmental groups seek to enforce, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to DHS.”
As a spokesperson of the Justice Department told The Hill, the ruling was “a victory for the Trump administration, for the rule of law, and above all, for our border security.”
Multiple conservation groups and the state of California filed a lawsuit in 2017 regarding waiver of the federal government of thirty-seven environmental regulations of building prototypes of the planned border wall in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego County and also replacing the existing border infrastructure through15-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico boundary in the south of San Diego.
“Congress has ceded its authority to Trump, who has swept aside fundamental public safety and environmental laws to build walls that won’t work,” Brian Segee, a Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney, said in a statement to The Hill after the decision. “This lawlessness is destroying irreplaceable ecosystems and militarizing communities.”
Brian also added, “The waiver highlights the Trump administration’s dangerous disregard for our environment and the rule of law. Trump is willing to throw environmental protections out the window to fulfil his divisive and destructive campaign promise. What’s to stop him from using this lawless approach to wreck wildlife refuges and beautiful public lands all along the border? We need to halt these unconstitutional waivers once and for all, here in San Diego.”
The project of border-wall replacement would include 14 miles of new primary and secondary border fencing stretching from the Pacific Ocean to Otay Mesa. The coastal San Diego County region contains streams, wetlands, other rare wildlife habitats, and also critical habitat for numerous endangered species including the Quinocheckerspot butterfly and the coastal California gnatcatcher.
A 2017 study conducted by the Center revealed that 90 and more endangered or threatened species would be intimidated by the construction of the proposed wall along the 2,000-mile border.
In Texas where the construction is close to the National Butterfly Center – the most diverse butterfly sanctuary in the U.S., the environmental concerns on the controversial border wall are on full display.
The National Butterfly Center of US is home to around 200 species of butterflies each year, including the Mexican bluewing, the black swallowtail, and the increasingly imperiled monarch.
A planned 5.5-mile section of border wall of concrete and steel will cut off 70% of the 100-acre property, and the 2018 Omnibus spending bill funded it.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, the nonprofit filed a temporary restraining order against the federal government to stop the construction until a lawsuit filed by the center resolved.
While building more 33 miles of border wall in the lower Rio Grande Valley, including the section through the butterfly center, the Trump administration waived 28 environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act.