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Homeland Security Waives More Than 30 Laws to Expedite Border Wall

In the drive to begin construction in New Mexico, the Trump Administration has bypassed dozens of federal environmental regulations.
February 2, 2018, 11am PST | Katharine Jose
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Wall Prototypes
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

This week, the Department of Homeland Security “announced that it would be waiving more than 30 laws, most of them environmental, to begin construction on a 20-mile-long stretch of bollard wall near the Santa Teresa port on the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Those laws include pieces of the legislation that make up the foundation of federal environmental protection, including the National Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Under the 2005 REAL ID Act, DHS Secretary Kirsten Nielsen has the right to waive any federal, state or local law to expedite construction in the border region, and this is not the first time she’s done so. Though the administration has not been particularly forthcoming about plans for the wall, the AP has reported that there are no plans for environmental review, and the Texas Observer has reported that at least part of it will bisect the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge.

The potential for “ecological disaster,” however, has been established by both news organizations and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Trump Administration has demonstrated a disregard for federal environmental regulation from the start, but this round of waivers also applies to parts of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.

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Published on Monday, January 29, 2018 in The Architect's Newspaper
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