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Water Resources Development Act Update


On July 29, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass its version of the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill (H.R.7575). The bill includes a number of good provisions on Water Protection Network priorities - including directing the Corps to implement the Principles, Guidelines, & Requirements (PR&G) and mainstreaming use of natural infrastructure. In June, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously passed its version of WRDA (S.3591) but it has not yet gone to the Senate floor. Please stay tuned for additional information and potential sign-on letters as WRDA advances through to conference and final passage. 

Thanks in large part to Water Protection Network members' efforts, an amendment that would have eliminated a key component of mitigation for the Corps of Engineers' Savannah Harbor Deepening Project and set a terrible precedent for civil works project mitigation in general was not included in the House WRDA bill. Click here to see the final letter with 64 groups opposing that provision, spearheaded by WPN members  Southern Environmental Law Center and American Rivers.
 

More information:

  • Click here for more information on the House WRDA bill.
  • Click here for more information on the Senate WRDA bill.
  • Click here to read about Water Protection Network WRDA priorities.

Lawsuits Filed to Defend NEPA


On July 15, the Trump Administration finalized its rule undermining critical protections provided by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the bedrock environmental law that requires the federal government to review the environmental impacts of its decisions and give the public a voice in federal decision-making. These changes eviscerate the public’s right to be heard and jettison the requirement for science-based decision-making.

On July 29, a nationwide coalition of 20 organizations - including WPN members Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, and Ocean Conservancy - represented by WPN member Earthjustice and Western Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Northern California to fight this attack on NEPA. On the same day, WPN member Southern Environmental Law Center filed its lawsuit against the rollbacks in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, representing 17 organizations including WPN members South Carolina Wildlife Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, and Alabama Rivers Alliance.

More information:

Pebble Mine's Toxic Final Environmental Impact Statement


On July 24, the Corps of Engineers released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Pebble Mine project - widely opposed by many WPN members - that would devastate Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed. The watershed supports more than 250 species of fish and wildlife and the largest salmon fishery on earth, including over half of the world’s supply of sockeye salmon. Pebble Mine would forever scar this essential watershed with a massive open-pit toxic mine, 270-megawatt power plant, more than 160 miles of natural gas pipelines, more than 80 miles of roads, and a toxic mining waste dam. 

The FEIS does not fully analyze and disclose major project impacts, shortcomings, and risks to Bristol Bay fish and wildlife, economy, tribes, and recreation - including the risk of a catastrophic dam failure that would pollute the watershed irreversibly with toxic mining waste. EPA's 2014 proposed determination under Clean Water Act Section 404(c) found that “any mine approaching the scale of Pebble simply can’t be done in a sensitive area like this” (Jim Murphy, National Wildlife Federation).

We encourage Water Protection Network members to take action by August 24th to stop Pebble Mine and protect the Bristol Bay watershed: Tell the Corps to deny Pebble's permit application and tell EPA to veto the project under Clean Water Act Section 404(c).
 

Learn more and take action:

109 Groups Oppose Destructive Yazoo Pumps Project


The Trump Administration continues to push the destructive Yazoo Pumps in Mississippi. Thank you to the many WPN members who joined member Mississippi River Network's group letter against the Yazoo Pumps during the public comment period on the Notice of Intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). While that comment period has closed, we expect the Draft SEIS to be released in the fall. The SEIS will look at the same project that was vetoed under Clean Water Act Section 404(c) in 2008 by the George W. Bush Administration to protect 200,000 acres of ecologically significant wetlands. This is a project that many WPN members have fought against for years. The SEIS will not examine any alternatives to the vetoed project, in direct violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Learn more:

  • Group letter to the Corps from 109 conservation, environmental, faith-based, and recreation organizations opposing the Yazoo Pumps
  • Technical comments against Yazoo Pumps, submitted by American Rivers, Audubon Mississippi, Healthy Gulf, National Audubon Society, Sierra Club, and Sierra Club Mississippi
  • Press release from conservation and public interest groups including WPN members Audubon Mississippi, Sierra Club, Healthy Gulf, American Rivers, and Mississippi River Network
  • Messaging and communications toolkit from WPN member Mississippi River Network: To support organizations engaging in the fight against the destructive Yazoo Pumps, MRN has launched this communications and messaging toolkit. The toolkit provides guidance for top line messaging, talking points, submitting unique comment letters, social media, action alerts, and more.
  • The Yazoo Pumps would threaten the nationally significant wetlands of Mississippi's Big Sunflower River. Learn more here about why the Big Sunflower River was listed as #3 on WPN member American Rivers' Most Endangered Rivers of 2020 report, and take action here.

Corps Confirms New Chief of Engineers


Major General Scott A. Spellmon was recently confirmed to be the Army’s 55th Chief of Engineers and commanding general of the Corps of Engineers. As the Chief of Engineers position term length is four years, Spellmon replaces Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite at the end of his term.

Selected News & Resources

Click here to see the pandemic resources for people and nonprofits shared in previous WPN Updates. If you would like to share news, resources, or something else in future WPN Updates, please email rubini@nwf.org.

Recent Public Notices


This is a non-comprehensive list of Corps of Engineers public notices from the Federal Register and Corps district websites, and select notices from other federal agencies. Please visit FederalRegister.gov, Corps division and district websites, and other federal agencies' websites for additional public notices. Click here for examples of comments and letters submitted to the Corps by WPN members.
 

Corps of Engineers Notices

Other Agency Notices

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