Our Opinion: Environmental devastationby Tucson Citizen on Apr. 04, 2009, under Opinion
Border fence doesn’t keep out people or things it’s supposed to, but does impede wildlife
A notorious waiver that allowed Homeland Security to run roughshod over pristine areas, ignoring every clean air, water and environmental law, marked its first anniversary this week – on April Fools’ Day, appropriately enough.
But the lawbreaking waiver is worse than foolish; it has been extraordinarily expensive and extremely injurious.
The unprecedented free pass to ignore longstanding U.S. laws was pushed through by Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security chief.
He was determined to erect a high wall along our border with Mexico, and damn the consequences.
And what consequences have been wrought?
At least 601 miles of border fencing have been erected to date – at a cost averaging $3.9 million per mile. That’s more than $2.4 billion, and intrusions into our country continue unabated.
Migrants hoist one another over the fence regularly and even a Border Patrol official quipped, “The border fence is a speed bump in the desert.”
Alas, while it may be a mere speed bump for migrating human beings, it’s a deadly blockade for migratory species, including one of Arizona’s most endangered animals.
In the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, overlapping ecologies result in some of the richest biodiversity in the world.
But Chertoff fended off protests a-plenty to ensure that a 15-foot-high steel border wall would bifurcate the officially recognized conservation refuge.
That wall has stranded mule deer, javelina, mountain lions and others from reaching their water source or other destinations, photographs show.
Indeed, wildlife biologists report, the border enforcement infrastructure and activities now join our long-running drought as the top two threats to Arizona’s endangered Sonoran pronghorn, the fastest land mammal in North America.
The problems aren’t confined to Arizona. El Paso, Texas, officials have urged President Obama to tear down the wall that bars endangered ocelots, jacarundi and other species from accessing the Rio Grande.
The walls should be removed from areas where they threaten flora, fauna and waterways. But that’s only a start.
Congress must obliterate the ridiculous waiver it enacted.
The very idea that one official could cavalierly waive our Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and three dozen or so other laws is shocking, despite the alarmist attitudes over illegal immigration.
The rule of law must be upheld, and the Obama administration and Congress should waste no time righting this egregious wrong.