The Trump administration is waiving more than 30 environmental rules to accelerate the construction of President Trump's proposed border wall in New Mexico, forcing environmental groups to consider another round of lawsuits.
The Department of Homeland Security published a notice Monday that said the waiver was necessary to ensure the "expeditious construction of barriers" near the Santa Teresa Land Port of Entry.
"The Secretary of Homeland Security has determined, pursuant to law, that it is necessary to waive certain laws, regulations and other legal requirements in order to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads in the vicinity of the international land border of the United States," according to a notice published in the Federal Register.
The waiver included rules and requirements under several top federal environmental rules, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Clean Air Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Noise Control Act.
The waiver would allow the administration to begin replacing vehicle barriers with bollard walls along a 20-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border west of El Paso, Texas, at the New Mexico land border port.
"The United States Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector is an area of high illegal entry," according to the Department of Homeland Security's notice, stating the need for the waiver. "The El Paso Sector therefore remains an area of high illegal entry for which there is an immediate need to construct border barriers and roads."
The Center for Biological Diversity, the first group to sue the Trump administration over the wall last year, said Monday that it is considering a new lawsuit to address this latest waiver.
“The Trump administration is stopping at nothing to ram through this destructive border wall,” said Brian Segee, a senior attorney for the group. “Trump’s divisive border wall is a humanitarian and environmental disaster, and it won’t do anything to stop illegal drug or human smuggling.”
The environmental group sued the administration last year for a previous waiver of conservation rules to build a portion on the wall near San Diego. A hearing on the case in the federal district court of San Diego occurs next month on Feb. 9. The group argued that the wall violates the endangered species law by cutting off species' migratory patterns and ignoring protected habitat.
"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 group said.