Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 10, 2017

Contact:  Brian Segee, (805) 750-8852, bsegee@biologicaldiversity.org

Border Wall Prototype Lawsuit Expanded to Include San Diego Border Wall

Feds Violating National Environmental Policy Act, Shutting Out Public

SAN DIEGO— The Center for Biological Diversity has expanded its border wall prototype lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to include the proposed replacement of a 14-mile segment of the border wall.

“The Trump administration can’t ignore federal environmental laws just because it’s desperate to build this disastrous wall,” said Brian Segee, an attorney with the Center. “The administration wants to construct a massive, dangerous project in a fragile ecosystem. The law requires them to involve the public and ensure the environment and endangered wildlife aren’t harmed.”

In addition to challenging the agencies’ failure to release records concerning the prototype project under the Freedom of Information Act, the Center is adding claims that the agencies are violating the National Environmental Policy Act with respect to both the border wall prototype project and the 14-mile border wall-replacement project. In both cases Homeland Security and the Border Patrol have completely failed to conduct any prior environmental analysis or involve the public in the decision-making process.

The Trump administration is proposing to build 20 border-wall prototypes in the Otay Mesa area of south San Diego. The replacement project would include construction of 14 miles of new primary and secondary border fencing from the Pacific Ocean to Otay Mesa. This region of coastal San Diego County contains wetlands, streams and other rare wildlife habitats, as well as critical habitat for numerous endangered species, including the Quino checkerspot butterfly and the coastal California gnatcatcher.

“Trump’s wall would devastate wildlife and communities, all to fulfill a twisted campaign promise,” Segee said. “The administration can’t be allowed to plow forward with this destructive plan without a shred of environmental analysis or public input.”   

In June the Center filed a formal notice of intent to sue Homeland Security and the Border Patrol over threats to endangered species and critical habitat from building the border-wall prototype and replacement projects, and last week the Center filed a similar notice of intent regarding the border wall replacement projects.

A recent study by the Center identified more than 90 endangered or threatened species that would be threatened by proposed wall construction along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

The Center and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sued the Trump administration in May over the proposed border wall and other border-security measures, calling on Homeland Security to conduct an in-depth investigation of overall border-security environmental impacts.

Homeland Security has claimed that no environmental impacts would arise from the prototype construction but has not released any environmental analysis documents to the public or provided any opportunity for public comment.

On May 2 the Center submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to Homeland Security and the Border Patrol for records related to the border-wall prototype project, including for all records related to compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act. The agencies have acknowledged that request, but said they won’t provide responsive records for three to six months — long after the prototype project is scheduled to be completed.

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, local businesses and international relations. The border wall impedes the natural migrations of people and wildlife that are essential to healthy diversity.

Proposed California border wall construction

This image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

www.biologicaldiversity.org

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