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U.S. House passes a stopgap government funding bill; the Omicron variant is found in Minnesota; Biden administration revives the "Remain in Mexico" policy; and the Bidens light the National Christmas Tree.

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Biden Promises Environmental Damage Review of Trump's Border Wall

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Monday, June 14, 2021   

EL PASO, Texas -- The Biden administration has promised to conduct a damage assessment after announcing that billions diverted for construction of former President Donald Trump's border wall would be returned to the Department of Defense.

The administration also wants Congress to approve funds to address "urgent life, safety, and environmental issues" created by the construction.

Bryan Bird, southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, said in some areas of Arizona, explosives were used to destroy entire mountains on public lands. In addition to looking at that destruction, he argued the administration should assess damage to Native American spiritual and burial sites.

"I would ask him to look at places where streams and rivers and springs occur along the border, and to immediately consider removing any border wall in those places," Bird urged.

As money was pulled back last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed his state would build a border wall with Mexico to deter immigrants, but provided few specifics about construction or funding. Trump declared a national emergency in 2019 to divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects to build the border wall.

Bird also hopes the administration will review migration corridors that were affected, preventing North American wildlife from using traditional border routes to seek out food, mates and new habitat.

"This is probably the first time in history that migration of wildlife has been stopped on a continental scale," Bird contended. "So this border wall that Trump was building affected that historic, monumental migration pattern."

In addition to Arizona, where roads were built through wilderness areas and waterways sealed off to endangered fish species, Bird pointed out California and parts of New Mexico also sustained damage from border-wall construction.

If part of the money is returned to the Defense Department, it is scheduled to go toward 66 projects in 11 states, 3 territories and 16 countries. It could also be used for enhanced technology along the border.

Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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