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.
- 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.
- Earthjustice and Western Environmental Law Center: Nationwide coalition sues to defend the people's environmental law. Click here for the legal complaint and click here for comments from plaintiffs including Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, and Ocean Conservancy.
- Southern Environmental Law Center: Lawsuit: Government illegally ‘cut corners’ to ram through NEPA changes. Click here for the legal complaint.
- NEPA Rollback Community Messaging Toolkit in English and in Spanish
- Council on Environmental Quality: Federal Register Notice of Final Rule and more.
- NRDC: Understanding Trump’s Harmful Attack on NEPA (blog) and Don’t let Trump silence the American people (action alert)
- National Wildlife Federation: A Tale of Two Pipelines: How the National Environmental Policy Act ensures science, people, & wildlife are protected (blog) and URGENT: The White House Just Gutted Key Wildlife Protections (action alert).
- Comment letters from WPN members earlier this year opposing the rollbacks: This group letter led by the WPN and signed by 331 groups, as well as extensive detailed technical comments by the National Wildlife Federation, NRDC, and Southern Environmental Law Center, and many more individual organization letters and group letters. Click here to access a library, put together by the Partnership Project, of more than 400 organizational technical comments.
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).
- 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 email@example.com.
- WPN member American Rivers's new report: Rivers as Economic Engines: Investing in clean water, communities and our future, making the case for transformational federal investment in clean water and healthy rivers - calling for $500 billion over ten years for water infrastructure and river restoration. Click the link above for the report, poster series, infographics, fact sheets, and more.
- From WPN member New Jersey Audubon, for the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed: Upcoming 8th Annual Delaware River Watershed Forum: September 14-17 (now virtual)
- FEMA RiskMAP: Building Community Resilience with Nature-Based Solutions, a Guide for Local Communities
- NOAA and Restore America's Estuaries: Coastal Restoration Toolkit to launch restoration projects addressing flooding, coastal erosion, water quality, invasive species, wildlife habitat, and more
- ProPublica: Millions of Homeowners Who Need Flood Insurance Don’t Know It — Thanks to FEMA
- Scientific American: For Sustainable Oyster Harvesting, Look to Native Americans’ Historical Practices
- Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World: Research Article: Racial Inequities in the Federal Buyout of Flood-Prone Homes: A Nationwide Assessment of Environmental Adaptation
- The Hill: 350 facilities skip reporting water pollution under temporary EPA rule
- The New York Times: Is This the End of New Pipelines?
- US Government Accountability Office: National Flood Insurance Program: Fiscal Exposure Persists Despite Property Acquisitions
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
- Published 7/31: Notice of Intent to Prepare a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report for the American River Common Features Project, American River Erosion Protection and Arden Pond Mitigation Components, Sacramento County, CA (Comment deadline 8/31)
- Published 7/29: Draft master plan and environmental assessment for Lake Ashtabula and Homme Reservoir, ND (Comment deadline 8/28)
- Published 7/28: San Juan Metro Area Coastal Storm Risk Management Study, Puerto Rico (Public webinar on 8/18; comment deadline 8/26)
- Published 7/27: Intent to Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a Proposed Landfill Expansion within Wetlands that Drain to Burnetts Mill Creek at the Existing Regional Landfill off Merged U.S. Routes 58, 13, and 460 in Suffolk, Virginia (Virtual public scoping room available until 9/14)
- Published 7/27: Mid-Chesapeake Bay Islands Ecosystem Restoration Project at Barren Island, MD
- Published 7/27: Draft Environmental Assessment for Proposed State Route 266 (SR-266) Project, J. Percy Priest Lake, TN (Comment deadline 8/12)
- Published 7/27: Proposed Plan for an environmental restoration program site for PCB contamination, Silver Spring, MD (Comment deadline 8/21)
- Published 7/24: Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Final Environmental Impact Statement, AK (EPA review period ends 8/24)
- Published 7/22: Notice of Board on Coastal Engineering Research advisory committee meetings (Meetings on 8/25 and 8/26)
- Published 7/21: Public Notice for the Issuance of Regional General Permit SWG-2020-00520, Galveston District, for removal of utility lines that impact fedearlly authorized projects (Comment deadline 8/20)
- Published 7/20: Draft Foster Joseph Sayers (FJS) Dam and Reservoir Master Plan and draft Environmental Assessment (EA) (Comment deadline 8/21; virtual public meeting on 8/6)
- Published 7/17: Drafts of revised Lower Monumental and Little Goose Project Master Plans, with accompanying draft Finding of No Significant Impacts (FONSI) and Environmental Assessments (EA), WA (Comment deadline 8/21)
- Published 7/17: Final Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) and integrated Environmental Impact Statement, IL (Comment deadline 8/17)
- Published 7/17: Capitola Wharf Resiliency and Public Access Improvement Project, CA (Comment deadline 8/17)
- Published 7/16: Kansas Citys Levees – request for contractor feedback on Large Levee Raise Project, KS and MO
- Published 7/16: Proposed improvements to the Whitehall water treatment facility, MT (Comment deadline 8/15)
- Published 7/16: Record of Decision for Amoruso Ranch Specific Plan, Placer County, CA
- Published 7/15: Virtual Regulatory Program Workshop: Mitigation Banking Program (Webinar on 7/31)
- Published 7/09: Regional General Permit No. 44 for construction, maintenance, repair, and removal of utility lines and associated facilities, IL (Comment deadline 8/11)
- Published 7/09: Stockton Lake Water Supply Storage Reallocation Feasibility Study Draft Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact, MO (Comment deadline 8/10)
- Published 7/09: Issuance of Regional General Permit 9, El Dorado County, CA
- Published 7/08: DeepRock Disposal Solutions, LLC authorization for barge waste offloading facility, Ohio River, OH (Public meeting 8/7; comment deadline 8/17)
- Published 7/07: Scoping for the Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana Feasibility Study (Comment deadline 8/3)
- Published 7/07: Comment period extended for Draft Miami-Dade Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, FL (Comment deadline extended to 8/19)
- Published 7/06: Scoping for Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Mid-Breton Sediment Diversion, in Plaquemines Parish, LA (Comment deadline 8/16)
- Published 7/02: Youghiogheny River Lake Master Plan revision, PA (Comment deadline 8/7)
- Published 7/02: Combined Operational Plan (COP) Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park and Canal 111 South Dade Projects, FL (Comment deadline 8/3)
- Published 7/02: Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline in Louisiana and Texas (Comment deadline 8/1)
- Published 7/01: Drain 27 Wetland Restoration Project Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) in Fargo, ND (Comment deadline 8/3)
- Published 7/01: Corps seeks public comment on infrastructure changes for Ashley, ND (Comment deadline 7/31)
- Published 6/26: Florida Keys Coastal Storm Risk Management Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement (Comment deadline 8/10)
- Published 6/23: Sabine Neches Navigation District User Fee Notice, TX (Public hearing on 8/11)
- Published 6/22: Lake View Recreation Trail at Lucky Peak Dam and Lake draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and the Environmental Assessment (EA), Boise, ID (Comment deadline extended to 8/20)
Other Agency Notices
- Published 7/20: NOAA: Notice of Availability of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group Final Phase II Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #3.3: Large-Scale Barataria Marsh Creation: Upper Barataria Component
- Published 7/20: FEMA Final Rule: National Flood Insurance Program: Conforming Changes To Reflect the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12) and the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA), and Additional Clarifications for Plain Language (Effective 10/1/2021)
- Published 7/16: CEQ Final Rule: Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (Effective 9/14)
- Published 7/13: EPA: Final Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule (Effective 9/11/2020)
- Published 7/10: Tennessee Valley Authority: Natural Resource Plan in AL, GA, KY, MS, NC, TN, and VA
- Published 7/06: NOAA: Proposed Rule: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Regulations, CA (Virtual meetings on 7/23, 8/21, and 8/24; comment deadline 9/4)