Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is suing the Biden administration for failing to examine the environmental effects of its immigration policies — but state environmental groups are not supportive.
“This is a cynical lawsuit by the attorney general. Attorney General Brnovich did nothing while the Trump administration waived laws along the border, including environmental laws to erect the hateful, harmful, ineffective, and expensive border walls,” Sandy Bahr, a spokeswoman for the Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club, told Fox News.
Brnovich’s lawsuit, filed earlier in April, turns the National Environmental Policy Act against the Democratic administration. NEPA generally requires federal agencies to weigh the potential environmental consequences of policies prior to their implementation.
“It is the pinnacle of hypocrisy for the Biden administration to claim it supports protecting our environment while simultaneously ignoring laws established for that very purpose,” Brnovich told Fox News in an interview, adding that each migrant who crosses the border leaves behind six to eight pounds of trash.
Soldiers from the Tennessee Army National Guard keep an eye out for signs of illegal activity along the U.S./Mexico border in the Sasabe District of Arizona. (Photo credit: Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde)
“The left for years has used NEPA to stop development and highways and all sorts of projects while they wait for an environmental impact study,” he said.
The suit asks the U.S. District Court in Arizona to call off the White House’s decisions to stop both construction of the border wall and revive the “Remain in Mexico” policy until it is decided whether doing so would have any negative environmental consequences.
“Our organization does not support this action by the AG,” Kelly Burke of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition told Fox News. “The real issue with damage in the Arizona borderlands is that the Trump administration wantonly waived NEPA to construct hundreds of miles of habitat-destroying, groundwater depleting and useless border wall, including through protected areas established by Congress, through wildlife preserves, across rivers and wildlife corridors, as well as through the lands surrounding our iconic Arizona Trail.”
“Our position is to remove the border wall, reclaim and restore the habitats, rivers, wildlife corridors, and tribal lands that were in many cases literally blown apart, and to support equitable, humane, and comprehensive immigration reform,” Burke said.
Republicans in Washington, D.C., have also called attention to the “environmental impacts of illegal border crossings.” House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., requested information from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the topic in March.
“Both of us have personally witnessed scattered trash and damage to our lands during official tours of the southern border. Deserts are used as dumping sites and vegetation is destroyed. For example, between 2007 and 2018, 460,000 pounds of trash discarded by illegal migrants were collected along the 370 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border,” they wrote in a letter.
Fox News’ inquiries to other Arizona environmental groups including the Arizona Land and Water Trust, Keep Arizona Beautiful and Arizona Forward were not returned at the time of publication.
Fox Business’ Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.