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Arizona AG Brnovich calls criticism of border lawsuit ‘pinnacle of hypocrisy’

Border wall construction takes place west of Douglas, Arizona, on Dec. 14, 2020. (Customs and Border Protection Photo/Jerry Glaser)

PHOENIX – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Tuesday said opposition to his lawsuit over the environmental impact of the Biden administration’s border policies was the “pinnacle of hypocrisy.”

“I wish people like, you know, the environmentalists cared half as much about human beings and what’s going on in Arizona as they do, or they supposedly do, about plant and animal wildlife,” Brnovich told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

On Monday, the Republican filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that Democratic President Joe Biden’s decisions to stop border wall construction and end the “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers violate the National Environmental Policy Act.

“We know that this is having a change, by not building that wall, by stopping the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, it has had a change in our environment in Arizona,” Brnovich said.

“We know that there’s information out there that says that every time someone crosses the border, they’re leaving between 6 and 8 pounds of trash in the desert.”

The lawsuit argues the policy changes left “arbitrary gaps between physical barriers” and enabled “tens of thousands of asylum claimants to enter the United States — all without preparing an environmental impact statement for any of these activities.”

Brnovich said that under NEPA, major federal actions such as the Biden border policies must undergo environmental impact studies ahead of time.

“So once they started building the wall, if they were going to take any sort of substantial impact, like stopping the wall, they were required under the environmental law to do an impact study before stopping,” he said.

An attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson-based environmental group that fought against border wall construction during the Trump administration, called Brnovich’s suit “political grandstanding and an insult to border communities, wildlife and wild lands.”

“If Arizona’s attorney general truly cared about the environment he would’ve sued the Trump administration for ignoring environmental laws and tried to stop these destructive walls from being built,” Brian Segee told the Associated Press on Monday.

Brnovich questioned the sincerity of his critics.

“I think it’s the pinnacle of hypocrisy for the left or for the Biden administration to now claim that they want to protect the environment, but they’re unwilling to enforce this law because it’s not doing something that’s politically expedient,” Brnovich said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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