What is in this article?:
- Levee Board appeals decision on Yazoo pumping station
- EPA had no veto authority
- Large scale reforestation included
The Board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners has filed an appeal of a March federal court decision that threw yet another monkeywrench in a 70-year battle over a giant pumping station that would alleviate flooding in the lower Mississippi Delta near Vicksburg. The board filed the action with the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Yazoo Backwater Project pumping station was first authorized by Congress in 1941, but seven decades later the project remains embroiled in legal battles.
Large scale reforestation included
Nimrod told the Mississippi River Commission that, in his opinion, the EPA’s veto was based on its contention that the project would destroy wetlands.
“But, the project includes a large scale reforestation project — 55,000 acres — that would provide a 19 percent gain in wetlands forest,” he says. “The EPA completely ignored this, as well as the devastation to wildlife that occurs when there is massive flooding in these areas and animals are forced out into other areas.”
“We believe the trial court misinterpreted the evidence in this case,” says Damien Schiff, a senior staff attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation.
“Under the terms of the Clean Water Act, this project is immune from EPA interference because Congress approved it after a formal environmental briefing. When Congress appropriated money for the station in 1982, lawmakers had received an environmental impact statement from the Army Corps of Engineers. Congress had all the required information before them, and we believe the evidence will make this clear to the appellate court.”
Schiff says “the law and the evidence are clear: The EPA had no business pulling the plug on this vital pumping facility. Farmland, businesses, and the lives and homes of thousands of people in the lower Mississippi Delta are at stake.
“Congress authorized this project … because the threat of devastating floods is always present, and protective measures must be taken.”
It’s “especially timely,” Schiff says, that the Levee Board is appealing the court decision because the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Evnrionment has scheduled a hearing this month on the EPA’s controversial veto under the Clean Water Act of a permit issued to a West Virginia coal mining company.
“Clearly, people are starting to recognize a pattern of EPA abuse,” Schiff says.
The Board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners found out about the transmittal to Congress of the 1982 environmental impact statement through a Freedom of Information Act request two years ago, he notes. The board notified the EPA of its discovery, but “the EPA nevertheless went forward with its veto of the pumping station.
“The EPA appears to have been bound and determined to stick its nose into this project, even though there was no need, and we believe there was no legal authority,” says Schiff.
“It’s ironic that the EPA has dammed up this project, because it has been carefully designed to be environmentally sensitive.”
“It is truly a model plan,” says the Levee Board’s Nimrod.