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Northern Border

Recently, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it would begin scoping for a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that would cover activities along the entire U.S.-Canadian border, from Seattle, Washington to Saint Andrews, Maine, covering nearly 4,000 linear miles.

Glacier National Park. Photo: David Nicol.

In public meetings along the northern border, many of which were not announced to the public until after they had already occurred, CBP failed to provide any specific information about what they planned to do. The broad categories of construction of infrastructure, maritime activities, air operations, ground patrols, ports of entry, remote surveillance, firing ranges, and canine units were listed. Whether this would mean a small roadside building in Buffalo, New York, or a border wall through Glacier National Park was left unanswered.

When members of the public complained that it was impossible to comment on the project's environmental impacts without any information, CBP's environmental program manager suggested that their existing programs be used as an example.

Those who care about the communities and environment along the northern border should be deeply concernedif CBP intends to replicate their southern border activities. 650 miles of wall scar the southern borderlands, slicing through wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, state parkland and a Nature Conservancy preserve. Because of the Real ID Act, these walls were built without regard to the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and 33 other federal laws.

The Department of Homeland Security could use the Real ID Act to exempt walls and roads on the northern border from environmental and other laws, just as it did on the southern border.

The Sierra Club is deeply concerned about the flawed scoping process that has gone into the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, and we, along with other organizations, have called on CBP to start the process over, with transparency and meaningful public input.

Check here for updates on activities and legislation that threaten northern borderlands, wildlife, and the enforcement of environmental laws.

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