Ocelot. Photo: Andrew Nicholson via Flickr

Ocelot.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced yesterday that he will use authority Congress gave him to waive all environmental laws that will impede construction of 670 miles of border wall between the United States and Mexico.

The wall threatens the rare wildlife of the Southwest like ocelots, jaguars, jaguarundis, and others with extinction because it will prevent animals from reaching breeding populations in Mexico.

Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife, released a statement saying,

Thanks to this action by the Bush administration, the border is in a sense more lawless now than when Americans first started moving west. Laws ensuring clean water and clean air for us and our children — dismissed. Laws protecting wildlife, land, rivers, streams, and places of cultural significance — just a bother to the Bush administration. Laws giving American citizens a voice in the process — gone. Clearly this is out of control. It is this kind of absolute disregard for the well-being and concerns of border communities and the welfare of our wildlife and untamed borderlands that has forced Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club to take a stand and say “No more!”

The Bush administration is aiming to complete the wall before it leaves office, likely because all three presidential candidates have expressed some degree of opposition to it.

The only hopes for stopping the wall at this point are a Supreme Court case by the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife challenging the Bush administration’s authority to waive environmental laws, a so-far anemic effort sponsored by Congressman Raul Grijalva to get Congress to change the law, or civil disobedience in the border region aimed at stopping or slowing the wall.