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Thread: Trump waives environment rules for border wall construction in Rio Grande Valley sect

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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Trump waives environment rules for border wall construction in Rio Grande Valley sect

    Trump waives environment rules for border wall construction in Rio Grande Valley sector

    October 11, 2018
    Kevin Diaz

    WASHINGTON – The Trump administration said Thursday it will waive more than two dozen environmental and land use laws to speed construction of new border barriers in parts of the Rio Grande Valley, a move that has angered local property owners and environmentalists who say it will lead to protected wildlife corridors being walled off along the river.

    The announcement comes as House Republicans plan to introduce a bill providing nearly all of the $25 billion President Donald Trump wants for a border wall, setting up a December funding showdown that could threaten some government agencies that have yet to receive their 2019 allocations.

    The new waivers by the Department of Homeland Security cover a highly-trafficked 14- to 18-mile stretch in Hidalgo County, near McAllen, Texas. Homeland Security officials said in a statement that it is part of a Rio Grande Valley Border Control sector that "remains an area of high illegal alien activity and marijuana seizures."

    The Border Patrol reported 137,000 immigration arrests in the Rio Grande sector last year, along with the seizure of 260,000 pounds of marijuana and 1,192 pounds of cocaine.

    The Homeland Security Department said that despite the waivers from certain natural resource and historic preservation laws, they remain committed to environmental stewardship "to the extent possible."

    Environmentalists warned that the waiver area includes an eight-mile section where a wall would effectively sever parcels of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, the National Butterfly Center and the La Lomita chapel in Mission, Texas.

    "This waiver is the latest attempt by this administration to ram through construction of an unnecessary, expensive and damaging border wall," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife. "Waiving environmental, health and safety laws — and purposely excluding the public from providing input on wall construction — threatens wildlife, local communities and regional economies in the Southwest."

    Texas U.S. Sen. John Cornyn expressed support for the Homeland Security waivers in the Rio Grande Valley.

    "As part of this, there are a lot of local and state rules and regulations, and federal regulations, that, if they stayed in effect, would delay indefinitely construction of this physical infrastructure fence or wall, whatever you want to call it," he said. "It's a fairly standard item that these provisions would be waived as a means of accomplishing this on a more timely basis."

    Known as the "wildlife corridor," the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of more than 100 parcels of habitat assembled over the past 40 years to connect separate state, private and federal lands. Environmentalists say the $75 million project benefits rare migratory birds and imperiled wildcat species including the ocelot and jaguarundi.

    The administration has issued similar waivers in California and New Mexico to speed construction of border barriers.

    Federal officials said the new segments of wall construction will augment the existing wall infrastructure by closing gaps along the border that were not completed during 2008 wall construction.

    The push to shore up the border in Hidalgo Country comes amid an intensifying battle over Trump's long-promised border wall, which so far has received very limited funding from Congress.

    As the midterm elections approach, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said this week he plans to introduce a bill that would provide $23.4 billion for the wall. Counting the $1.6 billion Congress appropriated for fiscal 2018, that would make good on Trump's latest appeal for $25 billion.

    U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat who represents the area around McAllen, slammed McCarthy's plan, calling it a "Lincoln Logs" approach to border security that will put Republicans "on the wrong side of history."

    While Republicans control both the House and Senate, Democrats have enough votes in the upper chamber to block McCarthy's plan, which would require 60-vote Senate majority.

    With the issue coming to a head, Republican leaders in the Senate have downplayed talk of a funding impasse resulting in a government shutdown. But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Wednesday that he could not rule out a partial government shutdown affecting agencies that were not funded in a 2019 spending measure approved last month.

    That deal left out several critical government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, whose budget would include wall funding. A current Senate proposal calls for $1.6 billion in wall funding for 2019, Trump's original wall request. A House bill provides $5 billion.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who is retiring at the end of the year, said earlier this week that he expects a "big fight" over wall funding leading up to Congress' next negotiating deadline on December 7.

    Cornyn, McConnell's top lieutenant in the Senate, called McCarthy's bill "the opening salvo" in the looming wall battle. But he suggested some compromise might be in store.

    "I've always believed that physical infrastructure like a wall or a fence is a piece of the border security puzzle, but it's not exclusively a solution," Cornyn said Thursday. "That's why I've supported a complementary system of border infrastructure as well as technology and boots on the ground. I think we need all three."

    Despite Democrats' opposition to a wall, Cornyn called for Congress to find common ground on border security, which would likely have to include some kind of a deal on immigration.

    "I don't consider this to be optional," Cornyn said. "We're going to have to try to figure out how to build some sort of bipartisan consensus to do what we need to do in order to deal with our broken border."
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  2. #2
    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    Build the wall.

    American's are an endangered species from the consequences of this unrelenting invasion of our country.

    They also leave mountains of trash on our border destroying the environment...where is the outrage about that!
    stoptheinvaders likes this.


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