Eco-Waiver for Border Fence:

Earlier this month, a federal court enjoined construction of a border fence in southeastern Arizona designed to help keep out illegal immigrants, finding the Department of Homeland Security had failed to adequately consider potential environmental impacts. But this decision will not stop the fence's construction. Yesterday, utilizing authority contained in the 2005 law authorizing the fence's construction, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff waived the environmental requirements, allowing fence construction to proceed.

vaduz (mail):
Any environmental impact study done on the thousands of aliens who cross the border every day and leave, literally, tons of trash in their wake? Backyards, national parks, and other public spaces are reduced to garbage dumps. Where are the environmentalists?
10.23.2007 11:06am
I didn't really need another reason to despise the 109th Congress.
10.23.2007 12:10pm
What's worse for our environment, the fence or millions of people crossing the desert, leaving feces, trash, plastic bags, and other waste? Trampling desert plants, cutting new roads. The human and drug traffickers have made Organ Pipe National Park too dangerous to visit. Illegal aliens grow marijuana in Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, using fertilizers that harm the ground water and the soil, littering the area with irrigation pipes and making hiking into those areas dangerous. Any evaluation of the environmental impact of a fence needs to be balanced against the environmental impact of millions of people coming illegally into this country. I'm sure the impact of the fence would look minimal by comparison.
10.23.2007 12:49pm
Any evaluation of the environmental impact of a fence needs to be balanced against the environmental impact of millions of people coming illegally into this country.

Of course. But there will be no such evaluation.
10.23.2007 1:14pm
Environmentalists also need to be reminded of something I just read. Illegal alien campfires are one of the primary causes of wildfires near the border, including one of the fires currently spreading in the San Diego area today. Compare the pollutants put into the atmosphere by these wildfires compared to the fence. There is no comparison.
10.23.2007 1:26pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
1. I have a client, a rancher on the border. He's got photos of HUGE areas of his land trashed by illegal crossers. Plastic bags, water bottles, discarded food wrappers, clothing. When I say trashed, I mean 50% of the ground covered with them, for as far as the eye can see. He's had ten drive thrus this year (a drive thru is where a drug runner takes a truck, generally stolen, and just plows thru fences and gates to get from the border to the nearest highway, in this case about 10-20 miles away. Yep, we're talking serious environmental damage here.

2. Problem with comparing the two effects, comparing in a legal way, is that if you just go with an Enviro Assessment and Finding of No Signif. Impact, which could be prepared in weeks, it's sure to face a court challenge, a prelim injunction, and get tied up for a few years. I'd give 50-50 on whether the right result is that a full-fledged EIS would be required, maybe higher odds.
Or you could do an EA followed by an EIS. Probably take two to three years, and then face a court challenge (albeit one less likely to win).
Or you could do an EIS on the entire program, and then EAs on each segment of the fence. Most likely defensible, but still more time.
10.23.2007 1:56pm
Nate F (www):
These comments indicate wholesale ignorance of federal environmental laws. Federal agencies are required by law to perform environmental impact analysis on their own actions except where a waiver is available. They are not required to do EIA on the actions of a third party. I can't be the only commenter here familiar with NEPA, can I?
10.23.2007 1:58pm
Nate F (www):
Dave Hardy (sort of) beat me to it.
10.23.2007 1:59pm
Wow, I'm amazed. I suspected that Congress passed the fence bill just for political reasons, with no real intention of getting it built. I appears however they actually want it built otherwise they would have left out the waiver knowing full well that it would get blocked.

Not that there will be any significant environmental damage from the fence, but any excuse will do to stop it for some interest groups and their cadre of enabling federal judges.
10.23.2007 2:51pm
A fence can absolutely raise environmental issues, especially when you're putting it next to a river and across the paths of numerous tributaries that empty their contents into the river...

Link to article

I have no idea how much temporary harm will be caused by construction crews and their infrastructure, or what permanent damage there will be to the water shed, or whether any damage impacts human activities or just lesser species, or whether the damage is outweighed by the prospective benefits of a fence (the composition of which appears to be uncertain). But I damn sure would think that the level of diligence concerning such matters ought to be higher than zero.
10.23.2007 4:10pm
Deoxy (mail):

PLR: Go read the comments on this very thread; notic how you fit EXACTLY what theey were complaining about (well-known massive environmntal damage from illegal aliens completely ignored, potential and unknown environmental damage from fence construction puffed up).
10.23.2007 7:20pm
amativus (mail):
The court's only complaint is that the DOJ failed to consider the impacts adequately. It doesn't necessarily block the DOJ from constructing the fence anyway, it just needs to provide evidence that the environmental repercussions of the fence were considered when the decision was made.
10.24.2007 12:51am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
I have ambivalent feelings about the Border Fence harming wildlife, however, the birds should be able to fly over.

"What's worse for our environment, the fence or millions of people crossing the desert, leaving feces, trash, plastic bags, and other waste?" Exactly, and I'd like to add: taking American jobs, low income housing, relegating America's qualified disabled people working for often about $1.50 per hr. while the illegals get $10-20 per hr. or more, thereby costing qualified disabled Americans their bar admissions due to illegals taking all the paying jobs and available housing stock, etc.

Only in California -- can a qualified disabled bar applicant be denied bar admission because of the financial damage caused by illegals to those struggling post-law graduation/pre-licensure.

THAT's why the Border Fence is needed.
10.25.2007 3:24am