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Trump waiving environmental protections to build border wall

The Department of Homeland Security is planning to replace part of the California border wall with Mexico following a waiver of governmental reviews and environmental laws by the Trump administration. The waiver is the second of its kind exercised by the administration in under two months. Critics of the move call it an environmental threat and an overreach of executive authority.

According to a notice published in the Federal Register, the waiver begins at the border crossing in downtown Calexico, California, and extends 3 miles west from there. The plan is to replace the existing 14-foot-high corrugated steel wall with a 25-foot-high bollard wall. A bollard wall consists of posts set near one another with small spaces between them.

The Trump administration is relying on a 2005 law that exempts the government from the rules and regulations of the National Environmental Policy Act. The review process was waived by Homeland Security in August 2017 with regard to a 15-mile length of border wall in San Diego, a waiver that has been challenged by the Center for Biological Diversity in federal court. An attorney with the CBD has said he thinks the Calexico waiver is unconstitutional but he had not decided whether or not to include it in the existing lawsuit. The CBD attorney said Trump plans to build a divisive, destructive wall that no one else is in favor of, and that the wall will harm the environment.

Businesses with questions about the impact or applicability of environmental laws may want to consult an attorney with experience in environmental law who may be able to help them comply with existing regulations, including securing required permits and operating licenses. An attorney may also be able to assert legal protections on behalf of municipalities or community groups.

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