The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it will waive existing environmental laws in order to push through with building the Mexico border wall.
A statement from the Department of Homeland Security said that the department has “issued a waiver to waive certain laws, regulations and other legal requirements to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads in the vicinity of the international border near San Diego”. These laws usually require a review of the environmental impact of a structure before construction proceeds. Because of the waiver, the Trump administration will now be able to build the wall without needing to take its environmental impact into account.
Unfortunately, the wall will definitely have considerable impact on the flora and fauna of the borderlands. Opponents of the construction of the wall have already alleged that the waiver is unconstitutional.
The Environmental Impact of the Mexico Border Wall
The borderlands may seem like a stretch of arid desert where living things will struggle to survive, but there's actually a rich ecosystem in the area. The borderlands aren't all deserts as well. Researchers from the National Autonomous University in Mexico have found that building the wall will threaten as many as 800 species, though other sources place the number at 93 or 111.
If construction proceeds, the wall can seriously disrupt the way various wildlife live around the 3,145-kilometer stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border. Animals and plants, after all, have no use for geopolitical boundaries. A Mexico border wall isn't likely to benefit them at all. After all, many species migrate across the border and back for various things, such as mating, finding a new habitat, or finding new sources of food.
For now, however, the waiver applies to a 22-kilometer border stretch in San Diego, California that needs replacements. The Center for Biological Biodiversity (CBD), is contesting this in court. “This isn’t just a wall they’re in a rush to build. It’s roads, lighting and all of the infrastructure that comes with it,” says Brian Segee, a lawyer with CBD. “All of this without any environmental review or public input.“ Thus, the CBD's suit thus seeks to address the Trump administration's failure to pay due attention to the environmental impact of constructing a wall on the border.
Setting a Precedent
The construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border has been controversial since Trump first made his intentions to build it clear. Many have objected to its construction due to a variety of reasons, but the environmental impact of the wall hasn't received as much attention.
Construction in even just the 22-kilometer stretch in San Diego can already impact several species. Environmentalists say that this area is also home to endangered species such as the Quino checkerspot butterfly and the California gnatcatcher.
The waiver for the San Diego border can set a precedent should the wall for the rest of the border push through. Since there have been a number of studies on the effects of the Mexico border wall on the environment, hopefully the relevant authorities will take these studies into account.
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