Dear Administrator Johnson,
I applaud your agency's initiation of a Clean Water Act veto for the Yazoo Backwater Pumping Plant project (Yazoo Pumps) in Mississippi, and urge you to finalize that veto as quickly as possible. The Yazoo Pumps would use $220 million federal tax dollars to destroy ecologically significant wetlands in the heart of the Mississippi River flyway an area that is home to some of the richest natural resources in the nation. The Yazoo Pumps would cause significant harm to wetlands, fish, wildlife and recreation.
In 2000, your agency concluded that the Yazoo Pumps would drain and damage more than 200,000 acres of ecologically significant wetlands. This is more than nine times the wetlands that are harmed by private developers in an entire year nationwide.
The wetlands that would be drained by the Yazoo Pumps are some of the richest natural resources in the nation. They provide a critical migration route for 20 percent of the nation's duck populations and for many other migratory birds. They support critically important floodplain fisheries and a host of wildlife species. These wetlands also improve water quality and help reduce flood damages by acting as natural sponges that store and slowly release floodwaters after peak flood flows have passed.
The wetlands that would be drained include wetlands that federal taxpayers are already paying to protect in the Delta National Forest, a number of national wildlife refuges and on lands enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program.
Given the overwhelming adverse impacts of the project, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the Yazoo Pumps are "ecologically unsound" and "totally contrary to the Service's goal for a balance between economic and environmental sustainability." The Department of the Interior has concluded that the Yazoo Pumps would cause unacceptable adverse impacts to fish and wildlife in the region.
Data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency shows that the Yazoo Pumps make no sense for addressing the very limited residential flooding in this area. Instead, in a throwback to another era and contrary to federal policy, the Yazoo Pumps would be used to drain wetlands so agribusiness can intensify production to reap more farm subsidy payments.
The nation cannot afford the catastrophic environmental damage and economic consequences of the Yazoo Pumps. I urge you to veto this destructive, unnecessary and wasteful project.