Federal Judge Rules to Protect Wetlands and Wildlife in Mississippi
March 29, 2011
On March 28, Sierra Club, as part of a coalition of environmental groups, secured an important legal victory for the Mississippi Delta, when a federal judge issued a ruling blocking the construction of the misguided Yazoo Pumps project. This decision affirms the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to veto such wasteful and destructive projects. For almost 70 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has wanted to build the world's largest hydraulic plant in one of the most sparsely populated areas of Mississippi, the Yazoo River Basin. The Yazoo Pumps project would have drained wetlands in the Yazoo Basin for agricultural production and flood control, devastating more than 200,000 acres of rich wetlands which are home to rare bottomwood forest teeming with fish and migratory birds.
The EPA first expressed reservations about the environmental damage associated with the proposed pump project more than 25 years ago, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been against it for more than 50 years. In September of 2008, the EPA announced its final decision under the Clean Water Act to prohibit construction of the project, stating that the harmful impacts could not be adequately mitigated. The Board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners then sued the EPA, arguing that the agency did not have the authority to veto the project. On March 28, 2011, U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock issued a decision upholding the EPA’s authority to veto the Yazoo Pump Project as provided under the Clean Water Act.
“[This decision] marks the final nail in the coffin of one of the most costly and environmentally destructive projects ever contrived” stated Louie Miller Sierra Club State Director. “The Clean Water Act, and the protections that it brings to our people, our waters and our fish and wildlife resources, has prevailed”.
Details and Documents:
Yazoo Pumps—A victory for our waters and wetlands
March 29, 2011, Sierra Club et al. Press Release
U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock's Memorandum Opinion
March 28, 2011, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi
See other "Promoting Resilient Habitats" cases.