EPA Letter Confirms Yazoo Pumps Project Subject to 2008 Veto
ATLANTA (Nov. 16, 2021) – Today, EPA transmitted a letter to the Army for Civil Works regarding the Yazoo Pumps Project. In the letter, EPA explains that the 2020 Proposed Plan for the Yazoo Pumps Project is prohibited by EPA’s 2008 Clean Water Act Section 404(c) Final Determination. Flooding in the Yazoo backwater area is a significant problem and EPA is committed to continue working with the Army Corps of Engineers and all partners to identify effective and enduring solutions that support communities in the Yazoo backwater area.
“Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to visit the Yazoo backwater and see the truly challenging dynamic there. We must ensure that protecting people, preserving natural systems, and supporting agriculture are all part of the solution,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA understands the urgency and is ready to work with its federal partners and local stakeholders on a transparent process to find a solution to flooding in the Yazoo backwater area that is both durable and environmentally protective.”
This action supersedes a portion of a November 30, 2020 letter from EPA to the Army Corps of Engineers asserting that the 2020 Proposed Plan was not subject to the 2008 Clean Water Act 404(c) action. EPA recognizes that the Corps and other parties have developed additional information since 2008 that could be considered in this effort. The agency values the work between Corps’ and EPA staff to develop the technical and scientific information needed to address flooding in this region. EPA looks forward to an interagency process to leverage the expertise of a range of federal agencies to identify a durable solution for the Yazoo backwater.
Administrator Regan noted his concerns about the process EPA followed in preparing the November 30, 2020 letter. In the 11th hour of the previous Administration, the Yazoo Pumps Project was approved. Project elements that were vetoed by the Bush Administration in 2008 were given a green light. The November 2020 decision by the EPA leadership failed to reflect the recommendations from the career scientists and technical staff.
The EPA recognizes the disruptive impacts of flooding in the Yazoo Backwater Area on the day-to-day lives of Mississippians and the economy of the area, and the agency has heard first-hand from residents—as well as local, state and federal elected officials about the urgent need for flood control.
The Yazoo Pumps Project was vetoed under the Clean Water Action Section 404(c) by the Bush Administration in 2008. The Yazoo Backwaters and the wildlife they support are key to environmental health in Mississippi and beyond its borders. EPA is committed to protecting wetlands that are vital to a healthy ecosystem in the Delta and provide an important source of food for local anglers and hunters. Additionally, the backwater’s wetlands filter water that flows down the Mississippi and into the Gulf of Mexico and support thousands of geese, ducks, and migratory birds.
To view the letter sent to the Army for Civil Works, see here: https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2021-11/epa-reconsideration-of-november-30-2020-yazoo-letter.pdf