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Trump Border Wall Post-Shutdown Discussion (Wall-Fight)

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Aren't they supposed to do some type of environmental assessment?


New border wall near unique wetlands endangered water supply


The agency in charge of building the border wall received repeated warnings: tap water from nearby wells, and the unique wetlands of southeastern Arizona — yes, Arizona — home to a variety of wildlife and endangered fish will go dry.


Immigration officials didn’t head those warnings. Then, several ponds at the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge found themselves without water or with an extremely low supply, according to documents obtained by two different environmental groups.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency in charge of the refuge, said in a statement on Thursday that ponds “remain intact and the refuge continues to manage for endangered fish and wildlife.”


Contractors working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection began building a new stretch of border wall there in October, pumping millions of gallons of groundwater to mix cement for the 30-foot (9-meter) steel fencing that has been a signature promise of President Donald Trump. The Trump administration has promised to build 450 miles (724 kilometers) of wall along the border with Mexico by the end of this year; it has so far built 275 miles (443 kilometers).


The San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1982 to protect the rare wetlands in the middle of the desert that are home to a variety of wildlife, including several species of fish that are protected by the Endangered Species Act. Sitting on over 2,300 acres on the U.S.-Mexico border in southeastern Arizona, close to New Mexico, the refuge is home to hummingbirds, 75 species of butterflies, bats and, most importantly, to fish native to Rio Yaqui, which the refuge was set up to protect.


“It’s a pretty magical place,” said Randy Serraglio, Southwest conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The analogy is an oasis, really. That’s why the water withdrawals are so damaging.”


The refuge itself is supposed to be protected under environmental laws, but the government has waived those in the name of border security.


Other than the Fish and Wildlife Service employees who manage the refuge, and the environmental groups that oppose construction, the refuge and other ecological treasures have no protections when it comes to border wall construction.


Dozens of records obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, which has sued to stop border wall construction, show months of warning from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees in charge of the refuge that went largely ignored.


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