Environmentalists are gearing up to fight President-elect Donald Trump’s planned U.S.-Mexico border wall, likely to involve lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The Sierra Club pledged to “fight him in the courts” regarding the wall and Trump’s compliance with Obama’s global warming plan. The Mexican environmental organization Terra Peninsular has a lawsuit pending against another border wall dating back to 2015, which is receiving renewed interest. The Center for Biological Diversity is also apparently considering legal action to stop the wall.
Activists claim Trump’s wall could threaten 111 endangered species. Courts have repeatedly prevented the construction of government projects based on lawsuits filed by environmental groups under the ESA.
“This reckless project has meant dire consequences for vast expanses of pristine wild lands, including wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and national forests,” states The Sierra Club’s website. “The threat of a mandate to build hundreds of miles of additional wall continues to loom in Congress.”
The Sierra Club previously sued to stop another proposed border wall in 2007, but lost. Left-leaning outlets such as The Huffington Post have been highlighting the environmental impacts of a proposed border wall since at least 2010.
“Trump’s vision is dark,” Kierán Suckling, executive director of The Center for Biological Diversity, wrote in a press statement. “His election shocks our deepest moral values. But American democracy is strong and its commitment to wildlife, wild places, clean air, clean water and social justice is unwavering. We will regroup, reenergize and carry on the good fight to save life on Earth. We will win.”
Currently, about 40 percent of the 2,000-mile long U.S.-Mexico border is fenced, largely due to the “Secure Fence Act of 2006.” In some places these fences cannot be traversed by animals, but many of the obstacles are designed only to stop vehicles; allowing people or animals to cross. The 2006 legislation waived numerous federal, state and local environmental laws, but this may not be enough to end lawsuits.
“The US-Mexico border region is a delicate ecosystem located between two biomes, with regular animal and bird migrations moving between the north and south of the American continent,” states a summary of environmental research by BBC News. “It is home to a diverse population of mammals, birds and plants, including the iconic American roadrunner and the saguaro cactus, the cinematic symbol of the American southwest.”
Trump’s proposed wall would be 30 to 60 feet high of solid concrete, which environmentalists worry would cause more human activity which could potentially harm animals. However, scientists admit that wildlife has been able to adapt to similar barriers like the Great Wall of China.
Immigration and the refugee crisis are hugely controversial in environmentalist circles, as they believe constructing border fortifications hinders wildlife. European environmentalists regularly worry that the 15,500 to 19,000 miles of wire fencing and walls around the borders of Eastern European countries harms wildlife and could even lead to extinctions.
Additionally, environmentalists worry that the “open borders” immigration policies of the U.S. and Europe could harm the local environment by letting too many humans in.
“Population growth puts pressure on the environment, accelerates deforestation and increases our dependence on fossil fuels,” Progressives for Immigration Reform claimed in its 2014 Earth Day message. “Today, 80 percent of our population growth is spurred by immigration. While conservation is important, efforts to reduce our environmental impact must include stabilizing immigration.”
The Sierra Club previously voiced a similar message to Progressives for Immigration Reform and even claimed that “… all of our environmental successes may be short-lived if they do not include efforts to address population growth.” Until 1996, the Club’s official policy was that both birth rates and immigration levels needed to sharply decline to stabilize American population growth as rapidly as possible, but the policy position was changed as the organization became increasingly tied to left-wing politics.
“We will certainly fight it, but all environmental laws for things on the border were waved a decade ago,” Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, told TheDCNF. “Its not clear that there are that many litigation avenues. Walls are insanely expensive and don’t work. I think the Trump rhetoric we’re seeing will run into a wall of its own.”
The Sierra Club and Terra Peninsular did not return TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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