"In an aggressive move to finish 670 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of the year, the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced plans to waive federal and state environmental laws."
"The two waivers, which were approved by Congress, will allow Homeland Security to slash through a thicket of more than 30 environmental and cultural laws to speed construction."
"Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday that the department was committed to minimizing the impact on the environment. The draft environmental assessments, he said, show the projects will have only 'insignificant impacts on the environment and cultural resources.'"
"'DHS is neither compromising its commitment to responsible environmental stewardship nor its commitment to solicit and respond to the needs of state, local and tribal governments,' Chertoff said in a prepared statement."
"Critics, however, said the waivers were intended to sidestep growing and unexpectedly fierce opposition -- especially in Arizona and in Texas, where concerns have been raised about endangered species and fragile ecosystems along the Rio Grande."