EPA’s Yazoo Pumps Veto Ends Subsidized Wetlands Destruction

Global warming means we must be even more vigilant in protecting and restoring America's wetlands

09-02-2008 // Aileo Weinmann

Statement by Larry Schweiger National Wildlife Federation President and CEO On the Environmental Protection Agency Decision to Veto Yazoo Pumps Land Drainage Project

WASHINGTON, DC -- "On behalf of National Wildlife Federation, I thank Administrator Stephen Johnson and the Environmental Protection Agency staff that helped make this happen. National Wildlife Federation has often differed with the Bush Administration on conservation issues, but in this case, they got it right.

"Global warming is the single biggest threat to wildlife today. Because of this reality, we must be even more vigilant at protecting and restoring the habitat our wildlife depends on--and that provides us with so many public benefits.

"Our nation's wetlands are critical to sustaining healthy populations of wildlife and protect us from damaging drought, additional flooding and sea level rise.

"That is why EPA's veto of the Yazoo Pumps project is so important. The veto, which is only the 12th in the agency's history, puts an end to a boondoggle land drainage project conceived more than 60 years ago.

"This project in rural Mississippi would have cost federal taxpayers more than $220 million. Those tax dollars would have been spent to drain and damage some 200,000 acres of critically important wetlands that provide essential habitat to an array of fish and wildlife, support the migration of 20 percent of the nation's duck population, improve water quality, and reduce the impacts of flooding.

"This project would have also jeopardized one of the most significant success stories in the region. After nearly disappearing from the region, the now-federally threatened Louisiana black bear has returned to the Yazoo Backwater area, and bear cubs can be seen again in Mississippi.

"The veto of this project echoes the sentiments of the very people affected by this project: sportsmen and residents in Louisiana and Mississippi who believe that protecting healthy and plentiful wetlands should take precedence over subsidizing land drainage to benefit a handful of wealthy landowners.

"With this threat now behind us, the door opens to new opportunities: the potential to grow a local economy that emphasizes the value of these tremendous wetlands resources that will now be saved."

National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

Contact: Aileo Weinmann, communications manager, 202-797-6801, weinmanna@nwf.org

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