From: Los Angeles Times
Published June 24, 2008 03:17 PM

Border fence will skirt environmental laws

In an aggressive move to finish building 670 miles of border fence by the end of this year, the Department of Homeland Security announced today that it will waive federal environmental laws to meet that goal.

The two waivers, which will allow the department to slash through a thicket of environmental and cultural laws, would be the most expansive to date, encompassing land in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas that stretches about 470 miles.

ADVERTISEMENT

The waivers are highly controversial with environmentalists and border communities, which see them as a federal imposition that could damage the land and disrupts wildlife.

But they are praised by conservatives who championed the 2006 Secure Fence Act, despite the reluctance of President Bush, who has said a broader approach is needed to deal with illegal immigration.

Republicans greeted the news with satisfaction.

“It’s great. This is the priority area where most of the illegal activity is going on and where most of the deaths are occurring,” said Rep. Brian P. Bilbray (R-Solana Beach), chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus. “The quicker we can get the physical fence up, the sooner we’ll avoid situations like the deaths of agents. And it’s still a national security issue. You just have to stop this kind of open traffic along the border.”

Wildlife groups reacted with dismay.

Brian Segee, an attorney with Defenders of Wildlife, said, “It’s dangerous, it’s arrogant, it’s going to have pronounced environmental impacts and it won’t do a thing to address the problems of undocumented immigrants or address border security problems. It’s an incredibly simplistic and ineffective approach to complex problems.”

The waivers are intended to clear the way for fencing to block pedestrians and cars, as well as extra camera, towers and roads near the border. A special waiver was issued for a project in Hidalgo County, Texas, that would combine levees and a barrier.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

2017©. Copyright Environmental News Network