Rep. Johnson introduces bill to waive reviews of border wall’s environmental impact

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Dusty Johnson appears to be trying to please his base after he voted with House Democrats to block President Trump’s emergency declaration to secure funding for a border wall.

On Wednesday, Johnson announced that he’s introducing the Furthering American Security by Tempering Environmental Regulations (FASTER) Act. The measure would waive environmental reviews required by the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act in order to expedite building a border wall.

In a press release announcing the bill, Johnson reassured voters that he does believe in building a border wall.

“I’ve supported border security, and it’s important we do it the right way. Over and over again, my constituents ask me why it’s taking so long to build the border wall. Government regulations stall progress on crucial projects all the time,” says Johnson. “The FASTER Act will allow DHS and the president to build a border wall more quickly and without overburdensome regulations standing in the way.”

Tijuana, Mexico, left, and San Diego, Calif, right, are seen separated by the U.S. border fence. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

A border wall could have a number of serious environmental impacts. There are six separate ecological regions from the Gulf of Mexico in Texas to the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, making it one of the nation’s most diverse landscapes.

More than 1,500 species of plants and animals are found along the border, 62 of which are considered endangered or vulnerable.

About 654 miles of wall-like structures already exist, and research shows that these sections are harming wildlife by fragmenting populations into smaller, more vulnerable sub-units.

Scientist say a wall could also exacerbate flooding and erosion in many areas.

Johnson defended his vote to block Trump’s emergency declaration after the move received widespread criticism from his Republican base, citing that he’s against the expansion and abuse of executive power.

“I spent eight years under President Obama fighting ever-expanding executive authority. I remain committed to that principle,” says Johnson.



Categories: Local News, National News, Politics & Elections, South Dakota News