US to waive environmental reviews for San Diego border wall

The Trump administration said it would waive environmental reviews to replace up to 14 miles of border barrier in San Diego, shielding itself from potentially crippling delays.

The Department of Homeland Security said it would issue the sixth waiver of Donald Trump's presidency under a 2005 law that empowers the secretary to waive reviews required under environmental laws if the border barrier is deemed to be in national security interests. Those laws include the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act.

The waiver, which will be published in the Federal Register as early as today, helps clear the way for work to begin this month on replacing a second layer of barrier in San Diego, a steel-mesh wall that worked like a fortress when it was built about a decade ago but is now often breached with powerful battery-operated saws sold in home improvement stores.

The waivers avoid time-consuming reviews and lawsuits challenging violation of environmental laws.

The government awarded a $101 million contract to SLSCO Ltd. of Galveston, Texas, to build a barrier of 30-feet-high steel bollards, with options for an additional $30 million. Work is scheduled to begin this month.

Dawn Kamber