Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 14, 2018

Contact: Paulo Lopes, (202) 849-8401 ext. 105,

House GOP Hearing to Focus on Weakening Laws Protecting the Southern Border's Environment

WASHINGTON— The House Committee on Natural Resources will use a Thursday hearing to justify weakening numerous environmental laws along the nation’s southern border with Mexico under the guise of border enforcement.

House Republicans want to sweep aside dozens of laws, including the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws, which guarantees public participation and requires agencies to review environmental risks and damages of proposals.

The 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border is home to more than 90 endangered or threatened species that would be harmed by weakening NEPA, the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws.

“It’s disturbing that House Republicans are willing to undermine environmental laws to help Trump build his destructive border wall,” said Paulo Lopes, public lands policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “They’re willing to waste billions of taxpayer dollars on Trump’s warped campaign promise and gut crucial protections for people and wildlife along our borders.”

Over the past year, House Republicans have introduced numerous bills to weaken environmental laws along the border. H.R. 3548, sponsored by Michael McCaul (R-Texas), would waive three dozen laws, including NEPA and the Endangered Species Act. The bill would authorize $10 billion for border security, including a down-payment on Trump’s border wall, and would add 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 5,000 Custom and Border Protection officers by waiving polygraph tests for some applicants. McCaul’s bill would also allow assistance from the National Guard and Defense Department, including deployment of troops and supplies along the border.

“Waiving environmental laws to build this senseless wall would do real harm to wildlife and communities,” Lopes said. “The wall is an environmental catastrophe that won’t stop illegal drugs or human smuggling. These lawmakers are deeply out of touch with most of their constituents, who don’t want a wall.”

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 filed suit in federal court last year to challenge the Trump administration’s use of a long-expired waiver to build replacement walls and prototypes south of San Diego. A ruling is expected this week.

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.

Laws Waived Under H.R. 3548

  1. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).
  2. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).
  3. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) (commonly referred to as the “Clean Water Act”).
  4. Division A of subtitle III of title 54, United States Code (54 U.S.C. 300301 et seq.) (formerly known as the “National Historic Preservation Act”).
  5. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.).
  6. The Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.).
  7. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (16 U.S.C. 470aa et seq.).
  8. The Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300f et seq.).
  9. The Noise Control Act of 1972 (42 U.S.C. 4901 et seq.).
  10. The Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.).
  11. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.).
  12. Chapter 3125 of title 54, United States Code (formerly known as the “Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act”).
  13. The Antiquities Act (16 U.S.C. 431 et seq.).
  14. Chapter 3203 of title 54, United States Code (formerly known as the “Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act”).
  15. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.).
  16. The Farmland Protection Policy Act (7 U.S.C. 4201 et seq.).
  17. The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.).
  18. The Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1131 et seq.).
  19. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.).
  20. The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.).
  21. The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a et seq.).
  22. The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661 et seq.).
  23. Subchapter II of chapter 5, and chapter 7, of title 5, United States Code (commonly known as the “Administrative Procedure Act”).
  24. The Otay Mountain Wilderness Act of 1999 (Public Law 106–145).
  25. Sections 102(29) and 103 of the California Desert Protection Act of 1994 (Public Law 103–433).
  26. Division A of subtitle I of title 54, United States Code (formerly known as the “National Park Service Organic Act”).
  27. The National Park Service General Authorities Act (Public Law 91–383, 16 U.S.C. 1a–1 et seq.).
  28. Sections 401(7), 403, and 404 of the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978 (Public Law 95–625).
  29. Sections 301(a) through (f) of the Arizona Desert Wilderness Act (Public Law 101–628).
  30. The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403).
  31. The Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668 et seq.).
  32. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.).
  33. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (42 U.S.C. 1996).
  34. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (42 U.S.C. 2000bb).
  35. The National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).
  36. The Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act of 1960 (16 U.S.C. 528 et seq.).

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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