Earth Day 2021:
Arizona NEPA Lawsuit v. Feds Puts Environmentalists Back in the Game
Responding to the consequences of President Biden’s wildly out-of-control border mess, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued the administration in the U.S. District Court of Arizona. At issue is Biden’s unilateral decision to stop border wall construction, and to end the policy which requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their petitions are reviewed. The wall and Mexican Migration Protocols are among former President Trump’s signature immigration accomplishments, and helped to slow population growth in Arizona and other states.
Biden’s irresponsible, illegal border permissiveness violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which President Richard Nixon signed in 1970 and which recognized that population directly affects the environment. Today, 90 percent of that growth is caused by immigration. NEPA requires that every agency considering an action that will affect the environment must analyze and publicize those outcomes before going forward. The published analysis is officially called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Yet the Department of Homeland Security and, before it, the Immigration and Naturalization Service have steadfastly refused to comply with NEPA even though it’s federal law. Environmentalists like Julie Axelrod, Center for Immigration Studies Director of Litigation and a former Trump administration senior Environmental Protection Agency policy advisor, who have testified before the Council on Environmental Quality, had their logical arguments fall on deaf ears.
From the Arizona complaint which lays out the indisputable truths:
“Migrants (like everyone else) need housing, infrastructure, hospitals, and schools. They drive cars, purchase goods, and use public parks and other facilities. Their actions also directly result in the release of pollutants, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which directly affects air quality. All of these activities have significant environmental impact which, as discussed above, courts have recognized as cognizable impacts under NEPA.”
On April 15, Brnovich told Tucker Carlson Tonight that the average border crosser carries about 6–8 pounds of trash. Using the best estimate of 2 million aliens illegally entering the U.S. this year, Brnovich said that translates to “about a million of pounds of trash each month.” Brnovich insisted that the so-called environmental movement, which includes the hypocritical Sierra Club, cares only about raising money, not safeguarding America’s beauty.
U.S. immigration-driven population growth is dire, and should be a matter of grave concern to Congress. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that immigrants and births to immigrants represent more than 80 percent of the nation’s population growth. Yet Congress refuses to develop a responsible immigration policy that would provide a better quality of life for the nation’s native-born and settled immigrants.
Instead, Congress is intent to let unchecked population increases propel the nation, figuratively speaking, off a cliff. In 2016, respected environmental scientist and natural resources planner Leon Kolankiewicz, working with Progressives for Immigration Reform, completed a three-year study which led to a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), an analysis of the long-term, cumulative effects of immigration on America’s environmental resources.
Summarized, the study assessed three alternative immigration scenarios, all projected out to 2100: 1) the No Action Alternative, in which current immigration rates of approximately 1.25 million per year would be maintained; 2) the Expansion Alternative, or 2.25 million annual immigration; and 3) the Reduction Alternative, 250,000 annual immigration, the historic level.
As of Earth Day 2021, the U.S. population stands at slightly more than 330 million. In approximate numbers, the No Action Alternative would lead to a U.S. population of 524 million in 2100; the Expansion Alternative, the option the Biden administration is committed to, would create a 669 million U.S. population in 2100, and the Reduction Alternative would lead to a 379 million U.S. population in 2100, not ideal but the most manageable of the three options.
Assessing each of the three possible immigration levels’ outcomes and their potential environmental impacts on urban sprawl and loss of farmland, habitat loss and impacts on biodiversity, water demands and withdrawals from natural systems, carbon dioxide emissions and resultant climate change, and energy demands and national security implications, the results are widespread, ominous and highly adverse.
Congress has a long way to go to make up for ground lost since Wisconsin’s former U.S. Senator and Governor Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day more than half a century ago. As Nelson’s daughter Tia said, her father would be “deeply distressed” by the lack of progress on environmental causes. And, immigration is intimately related to environmental issues. As the Earth Day founder said, “… (I)t’s phony to say, ‘I’m for the environment but not for limiting immigration.’ It’s just a fact that we can’t take all the people who want to come here.”
Arizona’s lawsuit puts environmentalists back in the game in a manner earlier suggested by PFIR in the PEIS and the “Let’s Make America Green Again” campaign.
If other border states, such as Texas and New Mexico, joined Arizona, then environmentalists’ important goal — to preserve America’s magnificence — could start to be within reach.
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.