Following the waivers, which allowed DHS to disregard the National Environmental Policy Act, the agency abruptly ended the environmental assessment and environmental impact statement processes. Instead, they created a brand new category, the “environmental stewardship plan,” which was not governed by any federal legislation. These new reports recycle the bulk of the prior, “insufficient” reports, in many cases word-for-word, but have no established criteria or requirement for review from the EPA or the public. While they do include recommendations to minimize the wall’s environmental impact, most of which appeared in the earlier “insufficient” reports, there is no requirement that these be adhered to. In the instance of Smuggler’s Gulch, for example, revegetation and erosion control measures called for in DHS’ own report were not implemented.
With no need to obey environmental laws, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) filled in the canyon known as Smuggler’s Gulch, south of San Diego, with over 2 million cubic yards of earth that had been ripped from adjacent mountaintops, and planted the border wall on top of the berm. With no regulations in place and no oversight by other agencies, DHS put little effort into erosion control, and the still bare slopes of the earthen dam threaten to wash tremendous amounts of dirt into the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is only 600 feet away. Burying the estuary in sediment may raise its surface level enough to disrupt the twice-daily inundation of sea water upon which its fragile ecosystem depends.
To the east of Smuggler’s Gulch, in the rugged Otay Mountain Wilderness Area, DHS has blasted mountainsides in order to create access roads and level ground upon which to build the border wall. Before construction began the Environmental Protection Agency raised concerns that the dumping of tons of rubble, and the erosion that would follow, would clog the Tijuana River and violate the Clean Water Act. The Otay Mountain Wilderness Area was established in part to preserve some of the last stands of rare tecate cypress trees, the host plant for the even rarer Thorne’s hairstreak butterfly, which are found nowhere else in the United States. But with the Real ID Act’s waiver authority in hand, DHS has ignored the EPA’s concerns and our nation’s environmental laws, including the Otay Mountain Wilderness Act and the Clean Water Act. Border wall construction caused tremendous erosion, as predicted, and also involved cutting down more than 100 tecate cypress trees.
In July of 2008 the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument received seasonal monsoon rains which resulted in the flooding of a number of washes that are bisected by the border wall. Storms of this type normally occur every 3 – 5 years in this part of the Sonoran desert. The Army Corps of Engineers had previously stated that the border walls built across washes would “not impede the natural flow of water.” In stark contrast to these claims, the National Park Service determined that the grates built into the base of the wall to allow for the passage of water were quickly choked with debris and sediment. The border wall then acted as a dam, with floodwaters up to seven feet deep piling up behind it. The floodwaters then followed the wall in search of an outlet, which they found at the Sonoyta port of entry, causing millions of dollars of damage to private businesses and government buildings.:::MORE HERE:::