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Homeland Security Issues New Round of Waivers for Trump’s Border Wall

October 31, 2019
Jen Pelz, 303-884-2702, jpelz@wildearthguardians.org, Rio Grande Waterkeeper and Wild Rivers Program Director
In This Release
#LivingRio, #ProtectWhatYouLove, #RethinkRivers
WASHINGTON, D.C.–The Department of Homeland Security today issued a new round of waivers of critical environmental laws and regulations to expedite the construction of walls and roads along the United States-Mexico border and the iconic Rio Grande.

“The Administration is out of control pushing forward with its political agenda that marginalizes communities and landscapes in this region,” said Jen Pelz, Rio Grande Waterkeeper and Wild Rivers Program Director at WildEarth Guardians. “The wholesale waiver of the full suite of laws that protect the history, culture and environment of the Rio Grande valley is reckless and has and will lead to the outright destruction of the social and environmental values of the region.”

The notice describes more than a dozen “project areas” for construction in Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron Counties from Falcon Dam to Brownsville, Texas. The project areas include lands protected as a part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Las Ruinas, Arroyo Ramirez, Penitas West, Marinoff, Philip Banco tracts) and lands just north of and adjacent to the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Similar to the Administration’s waiver in 2018, the following 29 laws were included in today’s waiver notice:

  • National Environmental Policy Act;
  • Endangered Species Act;
  • Clean Water Act;
  • National Historic Preservation Act;
  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act;
  • Migratory Bird Conservation Act;
  • Clean Air Act;
  • Archeological Resources Protection Act;
  • Paleontological Resources Preservation Act;
  • Federal Cave Resources Protection Act;
  • Safe Drinking Water Act;
  • Noise Control Act;
  • Solid Waste Disposal Act;
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act;
  • Archaeological and Historical Preservation Act;
  • Antiquities Act;
  • Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act;
  • Farmland Protection Policy Act;
  • Federal Land Policy Management Act;
  • National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act;
  • National Fish and Wildlife Act;
  • Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act;
  • National Trail System Act;
  • Administrative Procedure Act;
  • Rivers and Harbors Act;
  • Coastal Zone Management Act;
  • Eagle Protection Act;
  • Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act; and
  • American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

“The laws passed by Congress over the past century are vital to the health and welfare of people and wildlife along the Rio Grande,” said Sarah McMillan, Conservation Director at WildEarth Guardians. “If the Courts can’t or won’t protect this vulnerable region, then Congress needs to act to check the power of this rogue Administration.”

WildEarth Guardians is a non-profit organization working to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Guardians has been advocating for a living Rio Grande for the past 25 years and established its Rio Grande Waterkeeper Program in 2017 to continue to leverage the collective expertise of Guardians and Waterkeeper Alliance to safeguard flows and clean water in the Rio Grande.

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