The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a waiver on Tuesday that will allow the Trump administration to bypass environmental laws in order to build The Wall™ faster.
The waiver cites a 2005 law which indicates that the DHS can use its authority to set aside laws and regulations when necessary for border infrastructure.
The Hill reports this decision was signed by then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly last week. It applies to a 15-mile border segment in the area of San Diego where upgraded fencing, border wall prototypes, and other projects are planned.
After signing the decision last week, Kelly was made White House Chief of Staff.
According to a DHS statement, the San Diego border area “remains an area of high illegal entry for which there is an immediate need to improve current infrastructure and construct additional border barriers and roads.”
While the waiver eliminates DHS’s obligation to comply with various laws with respect to covered projects, the department remains committed to environmental stewardship with respect to these projects,” it added.
“DHS has been coordinating and consulting — and intends to continue doing so — with other federal and state resource agencies to ensure impacts to the environment, wildlife, and cultural and historic artifacts are analyzed and minimized, to the extent possible.”
Due to this, border infrastructure projects are exempt from complying with laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Solid Waste Disposal Act, among others.
The waiver has been used by former President George W. Bush’s administration many times but never by the Obama administration.
Through his campaign, President Trump promised to build The Wall and make Mexico pay for it, a promise which to date he has only half kept. The Wall will be built, but taxpayers will initially have to pay for it. The House voted last week to appropriate $1.6 billion from taxpayers money to begin the construction of the border wall. Time will tell whether President Trump can force Mexico to pay for The Wall.
Of course, while supporters of the President cheer at the news, opponents begin to cry.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sued the Department of Homeland Security earlier this year claiming it needs to complete an updated environmental review of the southern border infrastructure projects.
“Bulldozing beloved wildlife refuges won’t make us safer, but it will enrage people across the country,” said an attorney with the group Brian Segee. His comments came last week after the House passed the funding measures for the Wall.