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Offbeat Here's how the public can comment on Trump's border wall plan

02:10  09 september  2018
02:10  09 september  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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a man standing in front of a mountain: In this June 13, 2013 file photo, Border Patrol agent Jerry Conlin looks out over Tijuana, Mexico, by the old border wall along the US - Mexico border, where it ends at the base of a hill in San Diego. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has begun testing body-worn cameras on its employees at nine locations.© AP FILE PHOTO In this June 13, 2013 file photo, Border Patrol agent Jerry Conlin looks out over Tijuana, Mexico, by the old border wall along the US - Mexico border, where it ends at the base of a hill in San Diego. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has begun testing body-worn cameras on its employees at nine locations.

Customs and Border Protection will extend the deadline for public input on the proposed construction of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, about two months after a coalition of 40 organizations requested the agency allow more time for feedback.

The coalition of conservation, human rights, public interest, and faith-based organizations requested a 60-day extension in July for input on the project. The letter also encouraged the agency to host a series of public comment forums in the areas where the border wall would be built.

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Customs and Border Protection announced Friday it would take public input via email through Nov. 6, a news release states. Comments, questions, or concerns can be emailed to CBP at commentsenv@cbp.dhs.gov.

The agency is extending the input period "based on the feedback received as part of its earlier outreach," the release states.

Earlier this year, the agency sent a letter to select residents and organizations requesting public input, but did not publish a public notice, the coalition's letter reads. The groups expressed concern that the solicitation for public comment didn't meet the standards for public consultation that the National Environmental Policy Act sets.

a man standing on a bridge: May 5, 2017; Naco, Ariz, USA; Rancher John Ladd leans on his truck on his ranch, which borders with Mexico (behind him). He has been frustrated for years over the illegal border crossers and drug smugglers that cut through his ranch. The 16,000 acre calf/cow operation has been in the Ladd family for 121 years. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK© Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK May 5, 2017; Naco, Ariz, USA; Rancher John Ladd leans on his truck on his ranch, which borders with Mexico (behind him). He has been frustrated for years over the illegal border crossers and drug smugglers that cut through his ranch. The 16,000 acre calf/cow operation has been in the Ladd family for 121 years. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK

The groups also said the original comment period was “not adequate” and the agency had “distributed this notice in a manner inconsistent with transparent and informed decision-making.”

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"CBP’s 30-day comment period, without even a single public meeting, strongly suggests a lack of sincere interest in obtaining thoughtful comments and broad engagement with the diverse constituencies affected by border barrier construction," the letter states.

The area of proposed construction spans about 33 miles and bisects numerous National Wildlife Refuge tracts, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Roma and La Lomita National Historic Districts, and dozens, if not hundreds, of private properties, the letter states.

THE WALL - an in-depth investigation into Donald Trump's border wall

Input is welcome on the potential border wall's impact on the environment, culture, and commerce, including potential socioeconomic impacts, and quality of life, the agency release states. The agency also will conduct environmental site surveys and assessments and is gathering data and input from state and local government agencies, federal agencies, Native American tribes, and landowners that may be affected by or otherwise have an interest in the construction projects.

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"Helpful comments are fact-based, include links to data or research, and provide specific information concerning potential impacts to biological, cultural, and natural resources," the release states. "If known, your response should include any state and local restrictions, permitting or other requirements that CBP should consider during project siting, construction, and operation."

Last month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office published a report describing testing and evaluation methods used, as well as a summary of some of the findings, according to the Arizona Republic.

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The report points to structural issues in the design or with the construction of eight prototypes that were erected in a hilly area on the outskirts of San Diego, California.

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The government runs out of money Sept. 30 at the end of the nation's fiscal year. Lawmakers in both chambers have passed appropriations bills in small clusters to get funding locked in for as many agencies as possible, according to reports. Then they hope to pass a short-term funding bill — known as a continuing resolution — to keep the leftover agencies funded at the current level while they continue to hammer out a solution.

FY18 RGV Border Construction Projects Request for Input by Beatriz Alvarado on Scribd

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