EPA Dumps Corps' Pumps

<p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has blocked an Army Corps of Engineers pumping project that would have drained and damaged up to 200,000 acres of Mississippi wetlands -- its first block of a Corps project in nearly 20 years.</p>
February 5, 2008, 11am PST | Nate Berg
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"Bush's Environmental Protection Agency moved to block a $220 million Army Corps of Engineers flood-control project in the Mississippi Delta, laying the groundwork for the first EPA veto of an Army Corps project since 1990. And the project is arguably the most ecologically destructive Army Corps boondoggle on the books today, which is saying something. It would build the world's largest hydraulic pump to protect a sparsely populated area dominated by soybean fields from Yazoo River flooding, and it would drain or degrade enough wetlands to cover all five boroughs of New York City. Authorized by Congress 67 years ago, the so-called Yazoo Pump is a relic of an era when wetlands were considered wastelands."

"The pump, designed to move as much as 6 million gallons of water per minute, 'would impact aquatic ecosystems on a massive scale,' the EPA's Lawrence Starfield wrote in the letter. The Army Corps acknowledges that it would damage 67,000 acres of wetlands; the twelve Corps projects the EPA has vetoed in its history would have damaged a total of less than 8,000 acres. And scientists say the pump's actual devastation would be more like 200,000 acres, which is why 541 of them signed a letter calling for a veto. The Clinton Administration dismissed what then Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt called a "godawful, cockamamie" project in 2000, and even the top lobbyist for the Corps once described the pump and a second project in Missouri as 'economic duds with huge environmental consequences.'"

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Published on Saturday, February 2, 2008 in Time
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