Yazoo Pumps Ruling a Win for Black Bears

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the Mississippi Wildlife Federation (MSWF) welcome a district court ruling blocking the construction of the misguided Yazoo Pumps in the Mississippi Delta.

The decision is a huge win win for taxpayers and the environment. The wasteful wetlands drainage project would have cost Americans $220 million to build and at least a million dollars a year to maintain. This Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) project would have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands rich with wild game, as well as two national wildlife refuges in the Mississippi Delta.

The court ruling upholds the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability under the Clean Water Act to veto Corps projects that will have unacceptable adverse impacts on fisheries, wildlife, municipal water supplies, and recreational areas. NWF, MSWF and coalition partners have been fighting the Yazoo Pumps wetlands drainage project for more than 20 years and were intervenors in the lawsuit.

young black bear"The district court decision is a major victory for Mississippi taxpayers and the environment," says Dr. Cathy Shropshire, executive director of the Mississippi Wildlife Federation. "The Yazoo Pumps project is just more wasteful government spending, a boondoggle that would put Mississippians on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars for something we don't need and don't want," she says. "It would have impacted hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation in the area, and it could harm our threatened black bear population."

The money-wasting Yazoo Pumps project was rejected by the EPA under the Bush Administration. The veto decision was defended by the Obama Administration.

"This ruling is critical not just because it makes sure the Yazoo Pumps won't threaten wildlife in Mississippi," says Jim Murphy, water and wetlands counsel for the National Wildlife Federation. "It is also vital in ensuring EPA can protect wetlands, streams and other waters from harmful projects when the Corps fails to do so. EPA rarely uses this authority, but when it does, as in the case of Yazoo pumps, major environmental and fiscal travesties can be averted."