Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 9, 2018

Contact: Laiken Jordahl, (928) 525-4433,

Trump Administration Waives Environmental Laws for Texas Border Wall

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas— The Trump administration today announced that it will waive 28 laws to speed construction of gates and other border-wall infrastructure in Cameron County, Texas, including areas adjacent to a national wildlife refuge.

The waiver is intended to speed border-wall construction by sweeping aside laws that protect clean air, clean water, public lands and endangered wildlife. This is fourth time the Trump administration has used the REAL ID waiver.

“This adds insult to injury for Cameron County, where the government has already run roughshod over property owners and decimated the environment to build border walls,” said Laiken Jordahl, a borderlands campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump’s latest waiver continues to chip away at crucial protections for people and wildlife in the Rio Grande Valley. They deserve clean air, clean water and the same legal rights as everyone else in the country.”

The waiver, which is to take effect Wednesday, allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to waive bedrock environmental and public-health laws in 11 different areas totaling 6.6 miles. Some of these segments are adjacent to the Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge and other nature preserves. Other segments run through agricultural lands and communities.

Private landowners in Cameron County have already had land seized without just compensation to build border barriers. Approximately 40 miles of existing border wall already divide communities, wildlife refuges and ranchlands in the county.

The Center is suing the Trump administration over its use of the long-expired waiver for border wall construction at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in New Mexico. The Center is also appealing a federal court ruling in its lawsuit to stop the border wall replacement project near San Diego.

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:

  1. The National Environmental Policy Act
  2. The Endangered Species Act  
  3. The Clean Water Act
  4. The National Historic Preservation Act
  5. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act
  6. The Migratory Bird Conservation Act
  7. The Clean Air Act
  8. The Archeological Resources Protection Act
  9. The Paleontological Resources Preservation Act
  10. The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act
  11. The Safe Drinking Water Act
  12. The Noise Control Act
  13. The Solid Waste Disposal Act
  14. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
  15. The Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act
  16. The Antiquities Act
  17. The Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act  
  18. The Farmland Protection Policy Act
  19. The Coastal Zone Management Act
  20. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act
  21. The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act
  22. The National Fish and Wildlife Act
  23. The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
  24. The Administrative Procedure Act  
  25. The River and Harbors Act
  26. The Eagle Protection Act
  27. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
  28. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act

Border wall waiver map

Map by Kara Clauser, Center for Biological Diversity. This map is available for media use.

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.

More press releases