Friday, October 5, 2012

Sierra Club Borderlands event in Utah October 12

Sierra Club hosts a discussion of Borderlands Accountability
October 12, 2012
6:30 - 8:00 pm
Weber State University
Shepherd Union Building, room SU 312
Ogden, Utah

An extreme assault on America’s public lands and environmental laws recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The misnamed “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act,” (HR 1505) will waives 16 environmental laws on federal land along the entire U.S. – Mexico border and the entire U.S. – Canada border.  The lawless zone would  extend 100 miles into the United States from the borders for any activity of the Border Patrol.  National Parks from Glacier to Olympic to Big Bend, along with wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and national forests could see new walls and roads, towers and forward operating bases, with no concern for the environmental impact.
Utah Representative Rob Bishop, author of the bill, has a long history of attacking environmental laws and federal lands. 
The Sierra Club's Borderlands Team and the Utah Chapter will present a Borderlands Accountability event at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah to discuss the impacts that border enforcement measures such as border walls have already had, and the tremendous damage that HR 1505 could inflict.  Coincidentally, Ogden is in the heart of Representative Bishop's congressional district.

The Department of Homeland Security has not requested either the waivers or carte blanche on protected lands.  The “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act” has nothing to do with security.  It is simply an assault on environmental laws and federal lands, using national security as a cover. 

For campus directions go here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

U.S. IBWC meeting to defend their approval of dangerous border walls in the Rio Grande floodplain

In response to mounting criticism, the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) has agreed to host a public meeting to discuss their decision to approve the construction of border walls in the Rio Grande floodplain.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 29, from 6:00-8:00pm in Rio Grande City at the Holiday Inn Express located at 5274 East Highway 83.

Rio Grande City, along with Roma and Los Ebanos, will see miles of border wall built in the floodplain adjacent to homes, farms, and businesses.  These new walls will also repeatedly slice through the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Since 2007 both the U.S. and Mexican sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission have rejected the construction of walls in the Rio Grande floodplain due to concern that during a flood event they would act as dams.  In the United States water could be trapped in communities, unable to drain into the river.  Flood water could also be deflected into Mexico, worsening flooding there, and potentially pushing the river into a new channel, which would change the location of the international border.

IBWC demanded that walls built in other parts of south Texas either be placed north of the levees or inserted into them, so that they would not impact flooding.  Roma, Rio Grande City, and Los Ebanos are not protected by levees, so walls have not been built there.

In February of this year the U.S. section of IBWC caved in to years of pressure from Customs and Border Protection and reversed their rejection of these walls.  Mexico continues to reject these walls.  If the U.S. acts unilaterally it will be in violation of the treaty that established the border.

U.S. IBWC claims that a flood model commissioned by Customs and Border Protection in July 2011 shows that if the Rio Grande were to engulf border walls after a hurricane, debris lodged in the walls would only block 10-25% of the water.  That model contains no explanation of where this number came from.  By starting with the assumption that walls will not block water, the result of the computer model is essentially predetermined.

In Arizona Customs and Border Protection have constructed nearly identical border walls – 6-inch wide posts with 4-inch gaps between them – across a number of washes.  In places these walls have trapped debris to a depth of nearly six feet.  Walls then act as dams, diverting water into nearby homes and businesses or causing severe erosion.  U.S. IBWC should explain how it is that walls of the same design trap debris and act as dams in the real world, but allow water to pass harmlessly though in the computer model that they are relying upon.

These walls have the potential to do serious damage to communities and refuges near Roma, Rio Grande City, and Los Ebanos.  The Sierra Club Borderlands Team and No Border Wall urge RGV residents to attend this public meeting and ask the U.S. IBWC tough questions.  These decisions are being made in Washington DC for political reasons, but it is our homes, and possibly even our lives, that are at stake.

For more information about these border walls, please read the recent Texas Observer piece:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Fence and Wild v. Wall screening in McAllen, TX

The Fence and Wild vs. Wall

Border Wall Films Showing at Cine el Rey

Cine el Rey * 311 S. 17th Street, McAllen, TX
Tuesday, July 31st, 7:00 pm

Join us on Tuesday, July 31st for a free screening of 2 short documentaries that explore the issues and controversies surrounding the recently constructed U.S./México border wall.  This free screening is part of Cine el Rey’s Sustainability Film Series, and is sponsored by the Sierra Club.

Hundreds of border residents have had their land condemned, and the erection of border walls through Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness Areas has already done tremendous damage, especially since the Department of Homeland Security has been able to use the Real ID Act to waive all relevant environmental laws. 

In February the US half of the International Boundary Water Commission approved construction of new border walls in the flood plain at Roma, Rio Grande City, and Los Ebanos.  If they are built, these border walls will channel flood water into these communities, and also deflect flood water into Mexican homes and property on the other side of the Rio Grande. 

The event at Cine el Rey will feature two documentary films, with a short discussion to follow-

·         The Fence   Award-winning filmmaker Rory Kennedy’s HBO documentary features candid interviews with Border Patrol agents, ranchers, environmentalists and voices from both sides of the border security debate.  Kennedy uses humor to highlight contradictions and politically-driven misinformation, as well as the ineffectiveness and costliness of the controversial border barrier.

·         Wild vs. Wall   The Sierra Club film by Tucson filmmaker Steev Hise is an overview of the environmental effects of current border policies, including insightful interviews and impressive footage demonstrating the long-term ecological impacts of border walls.

 Admission is FREE

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Borderlands event in Austin March 4

Please join with some of Austin's finest bands in supporting the Sierra Club's Borderlands Team on Sunday, March 4, from 4pm - 7pm, at the 29th Street Ballroom (next to Spiderhouse Cafe on the University of Texas campus). Along with live music from Designer Genes and BitterHeaRt Society they will screen the short Sierra Club documentary Wild vs. Wall, which shows the damage dome by border walls in Texas and along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. Admission is free; donations for the Borderlands Team are welcome.

Unchecked by environmental protections, the walls that began in California’s borderlands now extend over 600 miles, inflicting tremendous damage upon many sensitive ecosystems. In Texas the walls that slice through the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge have fragmented habitat that is critical for the survival of endangered ocelots. In Arizona the border walls that cross washes and streams in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument have caused severe erosion and flooding. Border walls built in New Mexico’s Playas Valley block the movement of one of the last wild herds of bison, whose range straddles the U.S. – Mexico border. And wall construction in California's Otay Mountain Wilderness Area has involved dynamiting steep mountainsides, sending hundreds of thousands of tons of rock into the Tijuana River below.

The Sierra Club's Borderlands Team is working to prevent further walls and greater destruction along both borders. It is trying to head off legislation that would call for hundreds of miles of new border walls, or waive environmental and other laws along both the northern and southern borders. And the Team is pushing for the Department of Homeland Security to mitigate some portion of the damage that their actions have already inflicted.

Please come out to the 29th Street Ballroom on March 4, and show your support for local music and for our borderlands.