No Environmental Impact Study? No Border Wall, Lawsuit Says ~ NYT

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A fence separates El Paso from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. A lawsuit filed in federal court in Arizona threatens to derail President Trump’s promised border wall.CreditIvan Pierre Aguirre for The New York Times

PHOENIX — An environmental group and an Arizona congressman have sued to block the construction of President Trump’s wall along the southern border, threatening to derail one of his marquee projects well before it gets off the ground.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources, claimed in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Tucson that the Trump administration had failed to study the wall’s environmental impact before gearing up for its construction.

Mr. Trump’s plan to strengthen the border includes the hiring of 5,000 Border Patrol agents, increasing by 25 percent the ranks of the largest law enforcement agency in the country.

The lawsuit seeks to stop any work until the government agrees to analyze the impact of construction, noise, light and other changes to the landscape on rivers, plants and endangered species — including jaguars, Sonoran pronghorns and ocelots — and also on border residents.

The suit appears to be the first legal action against the wall, but it is only one of the many challenges the project faces, including who will pay for it and what form it will take.

An estimate by the Department of Homeland Security put the cost at nearly $22 billion. Mr. Trump’s budget sets aside $1.4 billion for the wall’s initial development. Included in the proposals turned in to the federal government last week were a wall of solar panels and another topped by a monorail.

“Trump can fantasize about the wall, but at the end of the day, it’s Congress that appropriates the money, and it behooves Congress to want an independent analysis to look at all the consequences before we throw money down a rabbit hole,” said Mr. Grijalva, a Democrat from Tucson.

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