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April 14, 2020 – As reported in the Federal Register today, the Trump administration has issued another waiver of environmental and public safety laws to expedite border wall construction in Texas. This marks the 28th such waiver issued by this administration and will cover two tracts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most biologically diverse landscapes in the continental United States. 

The Lower Rio Grande Valley is home to more than 700 vertebrate species, 300 species of butterfly, more than 500 bird species and at least 18 threatened or endangered species, including the highly-endangered ocelot and jaguarundi.

“Even during a global pandemic, this administration will put the lives of people and wildlife at risk by waiving environmental and public health laws in order to advance construction of the border wall,” said Paul Sanchez-Navarro, Senior Texas Representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “Defenders will continue to fight for the protection of the rule of law against reckless decisions that hurt our communities and biodiversity.”

Background:

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  • A District Court Judge ruled earlier this month that a key challenge in our lawsuit filed in February of 2019 can move forward: whether President Trump can legally divert $3.6 billion in military funds to build a wall. The suit, filed with a coalition of environmental groups, challenged both the president’s National Emergency Declaration as well as diversions of Pentagon funds for wall construction.
  • Defenders, is also currently involved in petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review federal court rulings that have allowed the Trump administration to waive dozens of environmental, health and safety laws to speed construction of border walls from the Pacific Ocean to the Rio Grande Valley.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.