Last September, I reported that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit alleging that President Donald Trump’s proposal to expedite construction of a wall at the southern border violates environmental laws.

In a decision that perhaps is the saddest loss for #TheResistance since Trump scuttled American participation in the Paris Climate Accord, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Trump administration has the power to waive environmental laws in order to speed up border wall construction.

Yes, you read that right…the 9th Circuit sided with Trump.

The judges said federal law gives the administration broad powers to waive any laws in order to get the wall built.

“In short, the plain text [of the law] grants DHS authority to construct the prototype, San Diego and Calexico projects,” the judges ruled.

They were referring to some of the earliest wall-building projects the young Trump administration pursued.

Since then, Homeland Security has constructed new fencing across the southwest border, replacing vehicle barriers and upgrading old, substandard fence. And last week the government began to build the first new barriers on the border that was previously unprotected by any barriers.

The Department of Homeland Security had legal authority to waive dozens of environmental laws when it authorized building the model concrete barriers and replacing 28 miles of fencing in San Diego County and 3 miles at the border near Calexico, a process I have been following closely.

Almost as good as the 9th Circuit handing down this ruling is the fact they used a law signed by Democratic icon to assert Trump’s authority on this issue:

The court cited an immigration law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 that allowed Homeland Security to “install additional physical barriers and roads” near the border and override any laws that would interfere with “expeditious construction.”

…In lawsuits challenging the Southern California projects, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra and environmental groups argued that the 1996 law’s authorization of “additional physical barriers” did not apply to replacements of existing barriers, such as the fencing in the two counties.

But the court said the construction in San Diego County was designed to replace fencing built in the 1990s with a more effective barrier, and the new fencing in Calexico would replace a 14-foot barrier with one that was 18 to 25 feet high. Those qualify as “additional physical barriers,” the court said, and even if they did not, they were covered by the 1996 law.

The shock among those who follow these issues is palpable.

I am going to open up a bottle of liberal tears and enjoy the El Paso rally.

Eastman Original

 
 
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