Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: La Tierra Santa

Today is Blog Action Day for the environment. Gracias to Smartypants for the heads up and her contribution to this blogswarm that centers on an area of Peru that is polluted from a nearby copper smelter.

For my part, I would like to highlight something that I read over the weekend that disturbed the hell out of me. Growing up, the political system was always something that intrigued me. At least, the law-making aspect of it. The way the checks and balances of the U.S. government worked in theory seemed like a good way to pierce the cáscara of any one person's overinflated ego.

The nation's top security official may use his power to unilaterally trump a federal court order halting construction of a fence on a stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is weighing whether to invoke a section of federal law that allows him to exempt border construction projects from any law, his press aide, Russ Knocke, told Capitol Media Services. That includes requirements for studies on environmental impacts of federally funded projects.

The move would not be unprecedented: Chertoff used the power at least twice since it was granted.

The article goes on to describe the other two incidents which have involved scrapping environmental impact studies to make way for construction of the Great Wall of America™. The first was from 2005, involving a section near San Diego that included filling in canyons and putting a bird refuge at risk.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff signed an environmental waiver Tuesday night that expedites the Border Patrol's long-standing plans to fill in canyons and erect additional fencing along the final 3 1/2 miles of the border before it meets the Pacific Ocean.


The California Coastal Commission was particularly concerned about the Border Patrol's plans to fill a deep, half-mile long canyon known as "Smuggler's Gulch," with 2.1 million cubic yards of dirt, enough to fill 300,000 dump trucks. Commission members feared filling the canyon would erode soil near a federally protected estuary that is a refuge for threatened and endangered birds.

The second incident when Chertoff invoked this power was earlier this year, turning a blind eye to the impact of border wall construction on wildlife and water supplies near the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Range.
Chertoff voided "environmental requirements and other legalities that have impeded the department's ability to construct fencing and deploy detection technology on the range," spokesman Russell Knocke said in Washington.


Robin Silver, board chair of the environmental organization Center for Biological Diversity, called Chertoff's move "a historic travesty."

"Because they refuse to deal head-on with the economics of the immigration challenge, they're now taking a step to destroy the integrity of the central part of Southern Arizona's desert," Silver added. "There's not a wall on earth that's going to stop a human in search of a minimum-wage job to feed his hungry family."

As you can see, the precedent has already been set by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff to nullify the respect that should be given to the earth when it comes to the actions of the U.S. government. These actions are telling of two aspects of the modern conservative movement. The first involves their collective yawn regarding the middle finger treatment the Executive Branch has given to laws. Chertoff's actions are equivalent to the infamous signing statements wielded by his boss in the Oval Office.

The second characteristic is the disdain and demonization the conservative movement has reserved for the judicial branch. Any rulings that go against their wishes initiate a Level III Temper Tantrum and shrieks of accusations of activism and "legislating from the bench." Of course, the fit of rage is not necessary when you can smirk and dismiss one-third of the government, altogether.

Mr. [Duncan] Hunter said Mr. Chertoff possesses broad waiver authority to guarantee that dilatory legal requirements and lawsuits will not interfere with the timely construction of border infrastructure.

"Secretary Chertoff rightfully announced that he would use this authority to complete the 'Smugglers Gulch' location, just as he has at other locations along the border, and this most recent delay should be treated no differently," he said.

Looks like civics textbooks will need to be revised after this era of strong-armed governance comes to an end. Too bad that it will involve many steps in a backward direction.

Crossposted at Booman Tribune

[UPDATE] Check out the No Border Wall site for more information on how the construction is affecting the San Pedro River and other southwest habitats.

[UPDATE #2] So much for this being an action diary - my bad! Please contact the DHS and urge Chertoff not to nullify the judge's ruling. Gracias. Your congresscritter and/or senator would be an added bonus, perhaps they will issue a statement?

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