California’s lieutenant governor has warned that the state can use an environmental lawsuit to block President-elect Donald Trump’s efforts to build a border wall.
The state could sue under the California Environmental Quality Act or its federal equivalent to stop the wall, a proposal that Gavin Newsom called “laughable” in an interview on the Golden State podcast.
“There’s something called CEQA in California — there’s NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] at the federal level,” said Newson, who’s running for governor in 2018. “There’s indigenous lands and autonomies as it relates to governance on those lands. There are all kinds of obstructions as it relates to just getting zoning approval and getting building permits. All those things could be made very, very challenging for the administration.”
That’s “just simply never going to happen,” Newsom said of the wall. “It’s logistically impossible. It’s a laughable proposal that somehow Mexico’s going to pay for it. It’s just not going to happen.”
Both environmental laws were passed to protect the environment, and both have been successfully used to block building projects.
The environmental effects of border barriers are becoming increasingly clear in several European nations. The increase in the use border fences in the ongoing refugee crisis overseas is impeding the flow of wildlife between countries, with damaging consequences, according to recent research. “These fences represent a major threat to wildlife because they can cause mortality, obstruct access to seasonally important resources, and reduce effective population size,” concluded a 2016 study published in PLOS Biology.
Researchers noted in California’s case that “conserving biodiversity on an increasingly crowded planet will always involve a combination of applying ecological knowledge and skillful politics.”
How ready is California to fight Trump’s policies on the border and elsewhere? Very, said Newsom. “There’s no indication that he’s changed. That means we have to be prepared for the worst.” If Trump goes through with many of his plans, there’s “going to be a lot of confrontation.”
Newsom doesn’t seem concerned about alienating the next administration and isn’t cowed by Trump’s threat to cut funding to California because it’s a sanctuary state. “The United States of America needs California more, with all due respect, than California needs it from an economic perspective,” said Newsom. “California is the economic engine of the country.”
The podcast is part of a series of stories and interviews created in tandem with San Francisco magazine on “The Resistance to Donald Trump.”