Feds Waive Environmental Rules for New Border Fence
Ecosystem will be severely fragmented by fence
The Bush administration has announced it will wave more than thirty federal laws to finish building a wall along the Mexican border by the end of this year. The Washington Post calls the move the most sweeping use of the administration’s waiver authority during the wall’s construction. The waivers allow the Bush administration to bypass mandatory reviews on how the wall will affect ecological areas in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. House Homeland Security Committee chair Bennie Thompson called the waiver “an extreme abuse of authority.”
Environmental groups have filed petitions challenging the waivers before the Supreme Court siting several potential ecological hazards that would be created by the fence. Biologists are especially concerned about a handful of extremely rare jaguars that prowl up from Mexico over mountain trails in some of the wildest country in the southwest.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff issued two waivers covering 470 miles of the border from California to Texas where the department plants to build fencing into a flood-control levee in a wildlife refuge. In a statement issued on Tuesday, Chertoff warned, “Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation.”
Like it or not, what Secretary Chertoff refers to as, “endless debate” and “protracted litigation,” have become central components of our democratic system. Issuing a waiver of environmental impact studies for a controversial border fence threatens the very underpinnings of our democratic processes and sets a very dangerous precedent for future incursions. Slippery slope anyone?
Photo: Daquella Manera