WASHINGTON, DC (October 23, 2007) – Late last night, with the wave of a pen, the Bush administration negated 19 key environmental laws to facilitate the building of the already unpopular fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to public health and policy experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff waived the laws under the authority granted in the REAL ID Act of 2005.
“It’s frightening that one man, not elected by anyone, could take 40 years of laws and throw them out the window. These are the bedrock public health laws that keep Americans safe from toxic pollution in our air and water. And Secretary Chertoff didn’t even attempt to show that the exemptions of these laws are necessary to build the fence,” NRDC Legislative Director Karen Wayland said.
More than 200,000 people live in the area of Southeast Arizona where the next phase of border fence construction will resume. Their drinking water comes, in part, from the San Pedro River, which runs through the heart of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, now no longer subject to environmental law.
The laws waived are: The National Environmental Policy Act; Endangered Species Act; Federal Water Pollution Control Act (known as Clean Water Act); the National Historic Preservation Act; Migratory Bird Treaty Act; Clean Air Act; Archaeological Resources Protection Act; Safe Drinking Water Act; Noise Control Act; Solid Waste Disposal Act as amended by Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund); Federal Land Policy and Management Act; Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act; Antiquities Act; Historic Sites, Buildings and Antiquities Act; Arizona Idaho Conservation Act; Wild and Scenic Rivers Act; Farmland Protection Policy Act, and Administrative Procedures Act.