A Texas-Sized Mess

Mayorkas mistakes, Permian deals, and paddle crabs


Everything is bigger in Texas, including federal screw-ups.

Representing the Garrett Hardin wing of the Biden Administration, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas waived dozens of environmental and historic preservation laws 1 yesterday to “ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads in the vicinity of the international land border in Starr County, Texas,” including the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.2 Congress had mandated increased border wall construction, but Mayorkas chose to exercise his authority to ignore all the laws in the wall’s way.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s Laiken Jordahl responded:

“A plan to build a wall through will bulldoze an impermeable barrier straight through the heart of that habitat. It will stop wildlife migrations dead in their tracks. It will destroy a huge amount of wildlife refuge land. And it’s a horrific step backwards for the borderlands.”

This is an inhumane response to immigration,” said Michele Weindling, the electoral director of the Sunrise Movement. “The right thing to do would be to treat immigrants with compassion and address the root cause of what is forcing people to have to leave their countries, which is the climate crisis.”

Juan Mancias, the chair of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe, has been battling border wall construction though tribal cultural sites and graveyards through multiple administrations. Colonizers “killed our people in the first place, and we had to bury – then you dig them up to build,” Mancias told The Guardian’s Maanvi Singh. “It’s ongoing genocide.”

At a press conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden was asked whether he thought the border wall was effective. He responded “no.”

After Biden spoke, Mayorkas issued a petulant statement that the “language in the Federal Register notice is being taken out of context” and that “a border wall is not the answer.”

Sure looks like Mayorkas didn’t really clear his waiver with the White House…

In other news of the ongoing ruination of Texas, climate criminal ExxonMobil is planning to buy the Permian Basin oil and gas giant Pioneer Natural Resources for about $60 billion, the Wall Street Journal’s Lauren Thomas, Laura Cooper, and Collin Eaton report. They drily conclude:

Environmentalists, lawmakers and others have hoped oil and gas companies would invest their record profits into green energy. Woods has pledged Exxon will invest $17 billion through 2027 in cutting the company’s carbon emissions and building a business that would help other companies reduce theirs too, investing in areas including carbon capture, biofuels and lithium mining.

Exxon’s move to purchase Pioneer, even after its acquisition of Denbury, the CO2 pipeline operator, signals the company is still primarily planning to lean on its traditional oil-and-gas business for decades.

The Washington Post’s Louisa Loveluck, Jan Ludwig, Mohamad El Chamaa, and Sarah Dadouch take a sober look at the catastrophic decisions by officials under the Libyan warlord Khalifa Hifter that condemned over 10,000 people to death when the fossil-fueled Storm Daniel destroyed dams upriver of the port city of Derna.

As the United Arab Emirates prepares to host COP28, its state oil company ADNOC issued a new $17 billion investment in an offshore natural gas field in coordination with the Italian oil giant Saipem, formerly a subsidiary of Eni.

Soldiers and firefighters are battling to control a new wildfire on Spain’s Tenerife island that has forced some 3,000 people to leave their homes for safety.

Heavy rain triggered floods and mudslides and downed trees in many parts of Sri Lanka, killing at least six people.

New York City Mayor Eric “Public Safety” Adams’s failures to warn residents about wildfire smoke and floods may cost him re-election. Maybe immigrants aren’t actually the real threat, Mr. Mayor. Climate consequences!

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1 Mayorkas waived the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Clean Air Act, the Archeological Resources Protection Act, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Noise Control Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, the Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act, the Antiquities Act, the Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act, the Farmland Protection Policy Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, the National Fish and Wildlife Act, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, the National Trails System Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Eagle Protection Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

2 The Lower Rio Grande Valley refuge is inland from the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge where Elon Musk blew up a rocket.

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