Federal officials are waiving nearly 30 environmental laws in Texas to expedite the construction of President Donald Trump’s border wall, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Trump administration has already issued waivers of the Clean Air, Water and Endangered Species acts and others to clear the way for portions of the wall now under construction in California and New Mexico, the news outlet reported.
The LA Times reported the latest waivers cover stretches of planned border wall and gates in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the most heavily trafficked illegal border crossing in the country, where the Department of Homeland Security says 137,000 immigrants were caught last fiscal year.
Environmental groups anticipated the waivers, and are expected to sue to block them in federal court, though past efforts have failed.
“Waiving laws meant to protect border residents and ecosystems shows the Trump administration’s contempt for the rule of law,” Scott Nicol, co-chairman of the Sierra Club’s Borderlands Team, told the news outlet.
In waiving environmental protections in Texas, however, authorities cited the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 allowing construction of barriers that “deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry into the United States,” the LA Times reported.
In California and New Mexico, officials had invoked the Real ID Act of 2005, passed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which includes a provision allowing them to waive regulations to build border barriers without congressional oversight.
Environmental groups argue the new waivers will green light construction of about 17 miles of border barrier and gates passing through Bentsen State Park, the National Butterfly Center and near the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.
“It will truly be catastrophic to Rio Grande Valley communities” resulting in “ecological devastation,” Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner for the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity, told the news outlet.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.