February 1 brought some great news - The Environmental Protection Agency is initiating a veto of the Yazoo Pumps project. There are countless individuals and organizations that have worked to stop this project for too many years to count, and it has been a major campaign of the GRN. The Pumps project is unlikely to go away without a fight, and there will be much more work to do yet, but EPA's action is a major, positive step in the right direction.
The Yazoo Pumps project is a major boondoggle that would drain over 200,000 acres of wetlands (roughly the size of New York City including all five boroughs). As the EPA wrote in its letter to the Corps, "The Yazoo Backwater Area contains some of the richest wetland and aquatic resources in the nation, including highly productive fisheries, a highly productive yet increasingly rare bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem, hemispherically important migratory bird foraging grounds, habitat for endangered species, and wetlands providing a suite of important ecological support functions."
The last time the EPA exercised its veto authority to stop a project was in 1989, and George H.W. Bush was president. Of course, the Yazoo Pumps project would destroy 25 times more wetlands than all the projects combined that the EPA has vetoed in the past. We should all be thankful that in this case, the EPA has lived up to its responsibility to protect the environment.
Jeff Grimes is Assistant Director of Water Resources for the GRN