By ELLIOT SPAGAT

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Trump administration on Tuesday waived environmental laws and other reviews to replace a small stretch of border wall in Calexico, California, the second time it has exercised that authority in less than two months.

Critics said the move was an overreach and a threat to the environment.

The waiver extends 3 miles west from the downtown border crossing in the city of 40,000 people, according to a notice in the Federal Register.

The current barrier is 14 feet high and of the “landing mat” style — panels of corrugated steel, so named because of their use as portable touchdown pads for helicopters in the Vietnam War. The Department of Homeland Security plans to replace it with 25-foot-tall bollards, separate posts with space between them.

The bollard style was the topic of a testy exchange at a White House press conference in May, when a reporter asked Sean Spicer if it wasn’t more of a fence than a wall.

Elaine Duke, the acting Homeland Security secretary, said replacing fence in the area is one of the highest priorities for border security. The government plans to award a contract in November and begin construction in February.

It marks the seventh time the government has waived environmental reviews under a 2005 law. That law exempts the government from the National Environmental Protection Act, which calls for extensive reviews of environmental impacts, and a host of other laws.

Last month, Homeland Security waived reviews for a 15-mile stretch in San Diego.

The Center for Biological Diversity has challenged the San Diego waiver in federal court, arguing that the law doesn’t apply to replacing barriers. The lawsuit also seeks to block plans to build prototypes in San Diego for what President Donald Trump has called “a big, beautiful wall” with Mexico.

Brian Segee, an attorney for the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

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