Department of Homeland Security trumps EPA
The Department of Homeland Security trumped the Environmental Protection Agency, waiving numerous rules that could have delayed the construction of the border wall between the United States and Mexico with lawsuits or studies.
Laws intended to protect endangered species and habitat at the border by requiring environmental impact reports can be circumvented by a wavier issued by the department, it said. The announcement was only tied to the San Diego area.
“This waiver is pursuant to authority granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security by Congress and covers a variety of environmental, natural resource, and land management laws,” the department said in a press release.
Border wall prototypes and a physical wall in San Diego could begin in November at the earliest. The waiver opens the door for drilling work by the Army Corps of Engineers and road construction to begin sooner, although a timeline has yet to be provided by the Trump administration.
The waiver allows the DHS to avoid the legal requirement to complete an environmental impact study before building on public lands.
In fact, the agency says it has “the authority to waive all legal requirements” the Homeland Security secretary deems necessary “to deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry into the United States.”
And Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan tells NPR’s Eric Westervelt this portion of the border could certainly be described as one of those areas.
“Last fiscal year 2016, Customs and Border Patrol apprehended more than 31,000 illegal aliens and seized about 1,300 pounds of cocaine just in the San Diego sector alone,” Lapan explains.
Lapan also says it’s not the first time the agency has used such a waiver, noting the department under Michael Chertoff, a homeland security secretary in George W. Bush’s administration, invoked it five times.
Meanwhile, construction of the prototype wall has been delayed until November, due to complaints about the bidding process.
Two companies that bid on mock-ups of the proposed border wall with Mexico, a keystone of President Donald Trump’s campaign, made formal protests after failing to make it to the second round.
…The Trump administration said the prototypes would be delayed until November in an email to members of Congress earlier in the day, and Border Protection confirmed publicly in a statement late Thursday, referring to complaints sent to the Government Accountability Office.
“(Customs and Border Protection) expects GAO’s decision on these protests in early October 2017, which would delay construction to late October or early November, which is beyond our original summer 2017 timeline,” the agency said in a statement emailed to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Still, those delays are likely to be substantially less than those created by attempting to jump through the EPA’s flaming, regulatory hoops.DONATE
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