Security and jaguars

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05/05/2008
Here's something Boeing and the Department of Homeland Security likely didn't think they'd have to deal with when they began tackling the Safe Border Initiative and the fence between the United States and Mexico: Jaguars. Seriously, there are jaguars that live in the desert area that comprises much of the U.S.-Mexico border, and there's concern they won't be able to move naturally throughout their native habitat if there's a big ol' fence in the way. Look how cool these things are: Suffice it to say, though, that the government needn't worry itself with the same laws that apply to your company when you're doing installations: Last month the Department of Homeland Security waived 30 environmental laws to finish 470 miles of the fence by the end of the year. ... "We are currently in a lawless situation at the border," says Chertoff. "I feel an urgency to get this tactical infrastructure in. And although we're going to be respectful of the environment, we're going to be expeditious." I'm sure Chertoff's definition of "respectful of the environment" is slightly different than that of any number of environmental organizations. Yep: "National security and environmental protection do not have to be at odds with each other," says Defenders of Wildlife spokesman Matt Clark. "If we can drop this arbitrary deadline for constructing the fence and go through the proper procedures, then there are inevitably ways to minimize environmental impact, but as it is now it's throwing all of those laws out the window." Gotta say I'm going with Clark on this one. For one thing, that fence may very well slow down illegal immigration, but I have to say I'm concerned with throwing laws out the window in the name of national security. Is water quality affected? Pollution control? Emissions? Let's not go putting American health in danger in the name of keeping them safe. A little paradoxical, no? Just look what rancher Warner Glenn is willing to sacrifice: "I'm a livestock rancher, but I wouldn't mind donating a few calves to that jaguar, so to speak." By the way, I'd like to have heard a word from big John McCain on this one. It's has backyard, right? Where's he stand on jaguar rights?