DHS Allowed To Break Environmental Laws To Build Border Wall

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The agency was given waivers that allow officials to simply ignore environmental and land protection laws so the Mexico-U.S. border wall is built.

Border wall reaching the ocean.

It seems as if rules were meant to be broken — by the government, of course.

Facing a great deal of scrutiny, President Donald Trump's Department of Homeland Security has just obtained permission to bypass environmental laws so the initial phase of border wall construction in San Diego, California, can be launched.

By allowing the government to ignore its own land protection laws, the Trump administration is resorting to tactics used by President George W. Bush regarding the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico between 2005 and 2008, The Washington Times reports. At the time, the Bush administration obtained waivers allowing the administration to ignore laws protecting endangered species and Native American burial sites.

For the Trump administration, this is the first waiver in what could be a long list of others if the construction of the wall becomes a reality.

So far, existing waivers only apply to San Diego, where the administration was already working on upgrading fencing that is already in place. However, these same waivers may also help officials as they open up for companies to compete over which will be chosen to take on the wall contract.

Considering Customs and Border Protection, a DHS sub agency, is preparing to name which finalist companies will be building prototypes for the final wall project, it's safe to say the administration sought the waivers with the upcoming phase of the project in mind.

But Trump and his administration may not be thinking about the backlash associated with ignoring environmental laws in order to erect the wall. At this point, DHS seems to be in denial that problems will arise.

When asked about the risks to the environment associated with the freedom from following environmental and land protection laws, the agency stated that it will remain “committed to environmental stewardship with respect to these projects.”

That's difficult to believe as Trump himself has time and again ignored environmental protection advocates both during his campaign days and after he took office in January.

Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez

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