For Immediate Release, October 4, 2023
Laiken Jordahl, (928) 525-4433, email@example.com
Biden Administration Waives Laws to Rush Border Wall Construction Through Texas Wildlands
STARR COUNTY, Texas — The Biden administration announced today that for the first time it will waive environmental, public health and cultural resource protection laws to fast-track construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Texas. The administration says it will take “immediate action to construct barriers and roads” along the border, including through fragile habitat near the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
“It’s disheartening to see President Biden stoop to this level, casting aside our nation’s bedrock environmental laws to build ineffective wildlife-killing border walls,” said Laiken Jordahl, Southwest conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Starr County is home to some of the most spectacular and biologically important habitat left in Texas and now bulldozers are preparing to rip right through it. This is a horrific step backwards for the borderlands.”
The waiver sweeps aside 26 laws that protect clean air, clean water, public lands, endangered wildlife and Indigenous grave sites. The announcement marks the first time the Biden administration has used the REAL ID Act waiver authority.
“Every acre of habitat left in the Rio Grande Valley is irreplaceable,” said Jordahl. “We can’t afford to lose more of it to a useless, medieval wall that won’t do a thing to stop immigration or smuggling. President Biden’s cynical decision to destroy crucial wildlife habitat and seal the beautiful Rio Grande behind a grotesque border wall must be stopped.”
Wall construction in Starr County could harm recovery plans for endangered ocelots, which depend on contiguous wildlife corridors of protected habitat along the Rio Grande. Two endangered plants, the Zapata bladderpod and prostrate milkweed, are endemic to the area and will likely also be threatened by wall construction with their protections stripped by the waiver.
Last month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a damning report detailing the severe damage the border wall has caused to wildlife, public lands, and Indigenous sacred sites and burial grounds along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Beyond jeopardizing wildlife, endangered species and public lands, the U.S.-Mexico border wall is part of a larger strategy of ongoing border militarization that damages human rights, civil liberties, native lands and international relations. The border wall impedes the natural migrations of people and wildlife that are essential to healthy diversity.
Today’s action seeks to waive the following laws:
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.