Flood control still a dream for the Mississippi Delta

March 06, 2012 | By DAMIEN SCHIFF

Today we received a disappointing decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners v. Environmental Protection Agency.  PLF attorneys represent the Board in its challenge to EPA’s veto, under the Clean Water Act, of the Yazoo Backwater Project, an important flood control project to be located in the South Mississippi Delta.  Our case argued that EPA’s veto of the project—which consists of a single, modest pumping plant that would alleviate regular flooding in the Delta—violated Section 404(r) of the Clean Water Act.  That provision states that EPA cannot veto important federal flood control projects where Congress has reviewed the environmental impacts of the project and then funds the project.  The Fifth Circuit’s decision today ruled that the evidence was insufficient to establish that an adequate environmental impact statement had been submitted to Congress prior to the project’s 1984 appropriation.  The Fifth Circuit’s decision is disappointing because it means that the people of the South Mississippi Delta will continue to be deprived of the flood control that they have been promised for nearly 75 years.