Court Protects Taxpayers and Environment from Yazoo Pumps

Project would have destroyed up to 200,000 acres of wetlands

03-07-2012 // M├ękell Mikell, Ph.D.
White Egret

The National Wildlife Federation and the Mississippi Wildlife Federation celebrate the recent federal appeals court decision upholding the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop construction of the Yazoo Pumps in the Mississippi Delta. 

Today, taxpayers, wildlife and wetlands are safer from the endless drain of the Yazoo Pumps,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “While the Pumps were touted as a flood control project, they would have drained the taxpayers’ wallets to make flooding worse and destroy valuable habitat for fish and wildlife. We would have been burdened with the environmental and economic damage of this bad investment for generations,” said Schweiger.

“Two Administrations, two courts and the public have rejected the Yazoo Pumps project because of the terrible impact it would have had on the economy and the local ecosystem,” said Dr. Cathy Shropshire, executive director of the Mississippi Wildlife Federation.  “Hunting, fishing, flood protection and fiscal commonsense would have been threatened if this wasteful and destructive project had moved forward.”

The Yazoo Pumps would have destroyed up to 200,000 acres of wetlands that protect communities from flooding and provide clean drinking water and fish and wildlife habitat, including wetlands on two national wildlife refuges in the Mississippi Delta. This devastating Army Corps of Engineers project would have cost Americans at least $220 million to build and one million dollars a year to maintain.

The adverse impacts were so great that the Bush Administration rejected the project in 2008, using EPA's Clean Water Act veto authority for just the twelfth time in history.  The Obama Administration defended the veto of the money-wasting Yazoo Pumps.

On March 6, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld EPA’s authority to veto this destructive project. The Yazoo Pumps would have caused unacceptable harm to fish and wildlife.  The National Wildlife Federation and Mississippi Wildlife Federation were intervenors in the lawsuit, and were represented by the law firm of King & Spaulding LLP. Along with numerous coalition partners, these groups have been fighting the Yazoo Pumps wetlands drainage project for more than 20 years.

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