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Environmental Rules Waived for TX Border Wall

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced last week that any environmental regulations regarding the construction or repair of a section of U.S.-Mexico border wall for certain areas in Texas would be waived, drawing ire from environmentalists and private property owners alike.

The announcement, made Oct. 10 on the Federal Register, details exemptions in Cameron County; another announcement made the following day detailed similar measures for Hidalgo County.  

Border Wall Development

According to the Houston Chronicle, the announcement arrives as House Republicans are preparing to introduce a bill that would fund the wall. These new environmental rule exemptions serve to speed up construction in these areas, one of which is a 14- 18-mile stretch of border in Hidalgo County that’s known for being a point of illegal entry. The Border Patrol reported 137,000 immigration arrests In the Rio Grande sector last year.

Phototreat / Getty Images

The Border Patrol reported 137,000 immigration arrests In the Rio Grande sector last year.

In the announcements waiving the environmental regulations for construction in these areas, the memos did note that Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had the authority to make the exception under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which allows a chief to waive all requirements if infrastructure, such as a wall or road, is needed.

Project Progress and Criticism

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be moving forward with the projects. Work in Hidalgo County is to include an 8-mile stretch of border wall, as well as some work that will stretch along the boundary of the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and the Monterrey Banco Tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The scope of the work in Hidalgo County falls within the within the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector.  

The Center for Biological Diversity criticized the Department’s use of the waivers, noting that 28 laws regarding such construction are being ignored. Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, noted that many Hidalgo residents do not want the border wall. The Center has not yet decided if it will sue. Despite the regulations being waived, the Department of Homeland Security noted that it remains committed to environmental stewardship to the extent possible.

Homeland Security has not announced when construction on these projects is set to begin, nor how long work will last.


Tagged categories: Construction; Environmental Protection; Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

Comment from Mike Makela, (10/16/2018, 11:25 AM)

Build that wall

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