Biden signs healthcare order to undo Trump 'damage' as US detects two South Africa Covid variant cases – live

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Nina Lakhani has also written for us today on the theme of demands on Joe Biden’s environmental policies:

Border communities and environmentalists are urging Joe Biden to take immediate steps to remediate the environmental and cultural destruction caused by construction of the border wall during the previous administration.

Donald Trump sequestered $15bn – most of it from military funds – to partially fulfill an anti-immigration campaign promise to build a “big beautiful wall” along the southern border with Mexico.

As a result, hundreds of miles of the borderlands – including sacred Native American sites and protected public lands – have been bulldozed, blasted and parched over the past four years, with little environmental assessment or oversight thanks to waivers suspending dozens of federal laws in order to expedite construction.

Biden ordered construction to pause on his first day in office, but community leaders and experts consulted by the Guardian warned that urgent action is needed to stop the damage to fragile biodiverse landscapes and scarce water sources getting worse. They are urging Biden to:

  • Cancel the outstanding contracts, most of which the army corps of engineers awarded to a handful of firms with little transparency. Top officials at these firms are regular donors to the Republican party. The Government Accountability Office will soon publish its audit of the army corps’ role in the wall including the contracts and status of construction.
  • Deploy a team of experts including hydrologists, ecologists, zoologists and botanists, community and tribal advocates to assess the damage, and formulate a plan to restore critical habitat, waterways, wildlife migration corridors and tribal cultural sites.
  • Tearing down the wall where safe to do so, and allocate federal funds for the clean-up to ensure hundreds of tonnes of metal, concrete and barbed wire are safely disposed of.
  • Rescind the waivers which suspended 84 federal laws that mandate protections relating to clean air and water, endangered species, public lands, contracts and the rights of Native Americans.
  • Withdraw scores of lawsuits against private landowners on the border that seek to strip them of their land through eminent domain.

Read more of Nina Lakhani’s report here: Biden faces call to heal environmental and cultural scars of Trump border wall