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Skirting of rules shows hypocrisy of government
Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff officially skirted environmental regulations Tuesday with his anticipated announcement that the rules would not apply to plans to build fencing and roads on our border with Mexico.
A total of 470 miles of border security barriers were exempted from the necessity of full environmental impact reports, normally required for private and public projects. More importantly, the work is exempted from potential legal challenges by environmentalists who often use that tactic to delay projects for years or even force work to cease entirely.
Some 100 miles of barriers along the Arizona border, including two projects in the Yuma area, are part of the exemption order.
We have no issue with the idea of Homeland Security avoiding the environmental rules themselves. They are onerous and usually put unnecessary burdens on property owners and developers. The concern about environmental impacts has long been exaggerated to the detriment of property rights.
No, the problem is that the government is able to decide its efforts are so important that they trump bureaucratic environmental clap-trap, yet is more than willing to continue to impose these regulations on other Americans.
It is an old story. Congress doesn't mind making other citizens comply with its rules, as long as the government itself can get a pass. It shows a basic disrespect for the rights of the people.
In the case of the border fencing, Congress said we want 700 miles of border barriers stretching from California to Texas and it must be done by the end of this year. Oh, and if the government has to violate property rights or other requirements, that's OK.
The justification, of course, is the urgent need for border security. The urgency or the practicality of the fence are questionable, but let that be for now. The main issue is governmental hypocrisy.
Dare we hope lawmakers will see their own dishonesty and also free Americans of the environmental quagmire? Nope. What is good for them isn't good for us. The arrogance is palpable.