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Colorado Springs’ Space Force Base gets $8M in federal border wall settlement

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(The Center Square) – The Space Control facility at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs will receive $8 million in a settlement of lawsuits over unlawful construction of border wall projects that occurred during the Trump administration.

A coalition of 17 states and Colorado sued in 2019 and 2020, alleging the administration was illegally diverting taxpayer funds authorized for other purposes to construct a border wall in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. The settlement requires the Biden administration to cease construction of border barriers with the challenged funds. It also requires several actions to remediate environmental harm caused by the construction.

“The past administration’s violation of our Constitution’s basic commitment that Congress holds the power of the purse sought to undermine our nation’s commitment to a separation of powers between the branches of our federal government,” Colorado Democrat Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement. “This action also harmed Colorado, diverting funding for the Peterson Space Force Base here and harming our local economy. I am grateful that the rule of law is protected by this settlement and Colorado is no longer subject to an illegal diversion of funds from our state.”

The coalition of attorneys general received two favorable judgments in the Ninth Circuit court. The rulings declared the Trump administration’s decision to use funds for border wall construction was unlawful, along with future construction of barriers.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t rule on the legality of the transfer of funds to the project or the construction of the wall, its 5-4 decision in 2019 allowed construction to proceed while the litigation was pending. The Supreme Court sent the cases back to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after President Biden ordered all construction on the border wall to stop when he took office in 2021.

A total of $427.3 million will be restored for construction projects in nine states. The largest amount for one state in the settlement – $160 million – will go to New York. The U.S. Military Academy will receive $95 million for an engineering center and $65 million for a parking structure.

The Department of Homeland Security will provide $25 million for acquisition of property to offset some of the environmental impacts from the border wall, according to the settlement. The department will install small and large wildlife passages in the border wall for several endangered species. However, if circumstances arise or border securing operations require it, the department may install gates to close those passages.

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