Thursday, June 01, 2017

Environmental group targets border wall project, says prototypes will imperil desert species

The Center for Biological Diversity will file the third in what promises to be a string of environmental legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s border wall plans. The Tucson-based group on Thursday filed a required notice of its intent to sue the Department of Homeland Security over plans to hire contractors to build 30-foot-long prototypes of reinforced concrete or other materials this summer near San Diego. Such construction north of an existing border fence would harm several legally protected endangered species, the organization contends, and the government has provided no documents assessing or disputing that point. “It’s the big first step to building the border wall,” said Brian Segee, an attorney for the center. “The administration just has not done any environmental analysis at all.” Homeland Security officials declined to comment. The center and U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., already have filed a separate suit in Tucson federal court against the broader wall construction and enforcement proposal. They alleged Trump’s order to build a wall violated the National Environmental Policy Act because Homeland Security has failed to involve the public and update old environmental analyses dating to the George W. Bush administration. A third lawsuit challenges the department’s failure to produce public records from the Trump administration’s transition. Officials responding to the center’s public-records request said they could not comply until August, by which time the prototypes could already be constructed...more

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