Michael Chertoff, Environmental Action Figure

That he is, a man of action protecting the environment with all the tools he can muster. The Director of Homeland Security's first action: build a fence along the Mexican border through the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. After all, Chertoff says in his blog (yes, he has a blog) "....there are also environmental reasons to stop illegal crossings in the SPRNCA. Illegal entrants leave trash and high concentrations of human waste, which impact wildlife, vegetation and water quality in the habitat. Wildfires caused by campfires have significantly damaged the soil, vegetation, and cultural sites, not to mention threatened human safety."

But U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle agreed with the Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club and ordered a delay because the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies had failed to conduct a thorough study of the fence's effect on the environment. (Grist here)


Horrors! The "wildlife, vegetation and water quality in the habitat" will still be at risk! Swinging into action, our hero tells us that "I am exercising the authority granted to me by Congress to waive legal restrictions that impede our border security efforts. I think that further delay in securing the border in and around the SPRNCA presents an unacceptable risk to our national security, in addition to the environmental and human problems that will continue to occur if this area of the border is not secured.

To further ensure that our construction minimizes impact on the environment, we’ll be implementing several environmental mitigation measures and best practices. Specifically, we’ll work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to respond to wildlife concerns; we’ll erect temporary river barriers and remove them during flood season; we’ll work to prevent the introduction or spread of invasive weeds and restore temporarily disturbed areas with native plants; and provide a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan."

The NRDC made a little list of the laws that might have stood in the way of Chertoff's protection of this sensitive habitat that they call "a unique and biologically diverse watershed, internationally-renowned for its natural beauty":

* Clean Water Act
* Clean Air Act
* Safe Drinking Water Act
* Solid Waste Disposal Act
* Superfund
* National Environmental Protection Act
* National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
* Migratory Bird Treaty Act
* National Historic Preservation Act
* Archeological Resources Protection Act
* Historic Preservation Act
* Antiquities Act
* Noise Control Act
* Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
* Federal Land Policy and Management Act
* Farmland Protection Act

Fortunately they have all been swept away so that "environmental mitigation measures and best practices" can start immediately. Congratulations, Michael Chertoff!

See lots of great coverage at Grist

Related Content on Treehugger.com