ARTICLE: House Democrats want answers from Chertoff over Arizona border wall action

9 November 2007
Steve Taylor

[U.S.
U.S. Rep. John Dingell

WASHINGTON, November 9 – Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is being quizzed by Democratic leaders on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce over his actions on a border wall project in Arizona.

Chertoff controversially decided to waive 20 federal laws and overturn a judge’s order to resume construction of a border wall through the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.

“What specific facts and/or circumstances on the ground caused you to determine that the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act were preventing the expeditious construction of roads and barriers?” asked U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Michigan, chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, in a Nov. 7, letter to Chertoff.

“Further, please identify the particular regulations and specific requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act that were impeding construction of physical barriers and roads in the area.”

Dingell went on to ask similar questions about a number of other acts, including the Clean Air Act and the Solid Waste Disposal Act. The letter was co-signed by the chair and vice chair of the Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials. The chair is U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn, D-Maryland, and the vice chair is Hilda L. Solis, D-California.

Chertoff waived 20 federal laws after Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club successfully petitioned to temporary halt construction. On Oct. 10, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle found that DHS had largely ignored the relevant laws, and that the hasty Environmental Assessment that had been produced without public comment was inadequate.

The Guardian has yet to learn if Chertoff has replied to Dingell, Wynn, and Solis.

Here is their letter:

November 7, 2007

The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Mr. Secretary:

On October 19, 2007, you issued a determination pursuant to Section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, as amended, waiving the applicability of 20 Federal laws, including certain laws within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, with respect to land in the vicinity of the United States border from approximately 4.75 miles west of the Naco, Arizona, Port of Entry to the western boundary of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. The laws within the Committee’s jurisdiction include the Safe Drinking Water Act; the Solid Waste Disposal Act; the Clean Air Act; the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA); and the Noise Control Act.

This letter is an inquiry as to the specific facts and circumstances that support your determination that waiver of these laws was “necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads” in the geographic area described.

In particular, we request responses to the following questions no later than Wednesday, November 21, 2007.

1. What specific facts and/or circumstances on the ground caused you to determine that the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act were preventing the expeditious construction of roads and barriers? Further, please identify the particular regulations and specific requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act that were impeding construction of physical barriers and roads in the area.

2. What specific facts and/or circumstances on the ground caused you to determine that the requirements of the Solid Waste Disposal Act were preventing the expeditious construction of roads and barriers? Further, please identify the particular regulations and specific requirements of the Solid Waste Disposal Act that were impeding construction of physical barriers and roads in the area.

3. What specific facts and/or circumstances on the ground caused you to determine that the requirements of the Clean Air Act were preventing the expeditious construction of roads and barriers? Further, please identify the particular regulations and specific requirements of the Clean Air Act that were impeding construction of physical barriers and roads in the area.

4. What specific facts and/or circumstances on the ground caused you to determine that the requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act were preventing the expeditious construction of roads and barriers? Further, please identify the particular regulations and specific requirements of CERCLA that were impeding construction of physical barriers and roads in the area.

5. What specific facts and/or circumstances on the ground caused you to determine that the requirements of the Noise Control Act were preventing the expeditious construction of roads and barriers? Further, please identify the particular regulations and specific requirements of the Noise Control Act that were impeding construction of physical barriers and roads in the area.

6. Prior to deciding to waive the applicability of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Clean Air Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the Noise Control Act, did you identify the specific statutory provisions that were impeding or preventing expeditious construction of physical barriers and roads in the area? If so, please identify those provisions. Please also explain why you waived the Acts in their entirety rather than the specific offending sections, if any.

7. Were there any lawsuits or judicial judgments citing the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Clean Air Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the Noise Control Act or regulations promulgated there under that affected or prevented the expeditious construction of physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the international land border of the United States? If so, please identify each of them and provide copies of the pleadings and/or judicial opinions.

8. Did you conduct any analysis of the harm to the environment from waiving any or all of the following statutes: the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Clean Air Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the Noise Control Act? If so, please provide any such analysis.

9. What specific facts and/or circumstances on the ground caused you to determine that the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act were preventing the expeditious construction of roads and barriers? Further, please identify the particular regulations and specific requirements of the Administrative procedure act that you believe were impeding construction of physical barriers and roads in the area.

Thank you for your cooperation with the work of the Committee. If you have any questions, please contact us or have your staff contact Richard A. Frandsen or Lorie Schmidt with the Committee on Energy and Commerce staff at (202) 225-2927.

Sincerely,

John D. Dingell- Chairman
Albert R. Wynn- Chairman Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials
Hilda L. Solis- Vice Chair Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials

cc:
The Honorable Joe Barton, Ranking Member
Committee on Energy and Commerce

The Honorable John Shimkus, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials


© Copyright of the Vox Veritas Corporation dba Rio Grande Guardian, www.riograndeguardian.com; Melinda Barrera, President, 2007. All rights reserved.

Thanks to:
Martin Hagne
martinhagne@sbcglobal.net

Advertisements

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: