Dozens of Environmental Laws Waived to Build Border Wall in Texas

Although the majority of Americans believe it’s a bad idea and terrible waste of tax dollars, Donald Trump’s $23.4-billion border wall is starting to become a reality in Texas.

Construction began late last month on 40 miles of the wall in the Rio Grande Valley. This part of the wall, with a price tag of $22 million, replaces the existing chain link and metal fence with an 18-foot-tall steel bollard wall that’s expected to be completed by next April. And, just as predicted, conservationists say this portion of the wall alone will be catastrophic for the environment.

What’s really despicable is that in order to legally build the wall there, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it has waived nearly 30 environmental laws, including the Endangered Species, Clean Air, and Clean Drinking Water Acts.

This isn’t even the first time the Trump administration has suspended important environmental and human rights laws for the purpose of building the border wall. In August 2017, the DHS announced it would waive “a variety of environmental, natural resource, and land management laws” to build the wall in San Diego, one of the most commonly-crossed U.S./Mexico borders.

Fourteen months later, the same week that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy planned to introduce legislation that fully funds the wall with taxpayer dollars, a solar-powered underground tunnel was discovered leading from Mexico to the U.S. – more proof that a wall would be useless.

As they have tried to do before, environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity plan to file lawsuits to block the waivers in Texas. “Waiving laws meant to protect border residents and ecosystems shows the Trump administration’s contempt for the rule of law,” Scott Nicol, co-chairman of the Sierra Club’s Borderlands Team, told the Los Angeles Times.

The Rio Grande Valley is a major bird migration corridor, hosting one of the largest convergences of birds in the world. The wall is being built through nature preserves like Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, a “world-class destination for bird-watching” according to its website, and the 100-acre National Butterfly Center.

As Care2 writer Kevin Mathews wrote in August 2017, construction workers had already started tearing down the center’s trees and plants. When the wall is completed, most of the center will be on Mexico’s side. More than 45,000 people signed a Care2 petition urging the DHS to spare the National Butterfly Center.

The Trump administration was able to waive the environmental laws in Texas by citing the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which allows physical barriers to be installed in the vicinity of the border “to deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry into the United States.” Apparently it doesn’t matter that U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics show there’s been a dramatic drop in these crossings in the years since the act was passed.

Two months ago, Marianna Trevino Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center, sued the Trump administration to stop construction of the wall. “Our community is going to take an enormous hit from this wasteful public works project, which is a fleecing of America,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “This is being shoved down our throats.”

Take Action!

If you’re appalled by the current administration’s blatant disregard for the environment and think there are better ways to spend that $23.4 billion, please make your voice heard by voting in the November midterms and signing this petition telling Trump to dump his wall.

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

111 comments

Dave fleming
Dave f9 days ago

NO wall now .

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Edward Vaughn
Edward Vaughn10 days ago

Keeping out illegal economic parasites will definitely help.

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Chad A
Chad Anderson20 days ago

Thank you.

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Ann B
Ann B21 days ago

there has got to be a better solution than destroying the environment

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Dave fleming
Dave f22 days ago

Signed , No Wall .

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Michael F
Michael F28 days ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D29 days ago

Can we build a wall to keep tRUMP out??? Please...???!!!

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Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hillabout a month ago

THanks for the info.

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Marija M
Marija Mabout a month ago

Sick and ...

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Marija M
Marija Mabout a month ago

Why Trump, Trump...all the time?

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