FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2008
Contact: Oliver Bernstein, (512) 289-8618
Sierra Club Criticizes Bush Administration’s Massive Border Wall Waiver
Unconstitutional Waiver Threatens Environment, Communities along the U.S./Mexico Border
Washington, DC: Sierra Club sharply criticized the expected decision today by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to issue a waiver of dozens of laws to expedite construction of a controversial wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In March, the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the challenge that such waivers are unconstitutional.
“The Bush Administration’s latest waiver of environmental and other federal laws threatens the livelihoods and ecology of the entire U.S.-Mexico border region,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope. “Unwilling to consult with local communities or to follow longstanding laws, Secretary Chertoff chose to bypass stakeholders and push through this unpopular project on April Fools Day. We don’t think the destruction of the borderlands region is a laughing matter.”
The region covered by today’s expected waiver contains a large number of federally protected areas, including National Parks, National Monuments, National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, and Wilderness Areas. These lands are part of America’s Wild Legacy, and are of significant ecological, educational, historic, cultural, recreational and economic value to the United States and its people.
The state of Texas is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of today’s waiver due to the length of its border with Mexico and the vibrant ecology and economy of its border region. Responding to today's expected waiver announcement, Sierra Club state director Ken Kramer said: "The people in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas understand the value of the wildlife corridor along the Rio Grande for both the environment and the ecotourism industry that is vital to the area's prosperity. Waiving longstanding laws that protect the environment and our cultural heritage to build a wall along the Texas-Mexico border would undermine decades of work to establish and preserve a vibrant wildlife corridor and would be a devastating blow to the eco-tourism that is so much a part of the Valley economy.”