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What's Included This Week:

Opposition to Toxic Pebble Mine Project Grows: Add Your Voice!

The proposed Pebble Mine would require building the world's largest earthern containment dam, to hold the toxic mining waste or tailings from Pebble Mine. (Wild Salmon Center)
Members of the public, more than 200 businesses, and some politicians are adding their voices to the long-standing and growing opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine project that would devastate pristine habitat in Alaska's Bristol Bay for dozens of wildlife species and the world's largest source of sockeye salmon. In mid-April, the Corps of Engineers held its last public hearing for the Pebble Mine project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), amidst protests by several hundred people in Anchorage, as WPN member NRDC shares. Then, last week more than 200 businesses - including Whole Foods, Patagonia, Orvis, and many more - sent a letter calling on the Corps to suspend permitting for Pebble Mine, and criticizing some of the many flaws in the DEIS. Also last week, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska wrote to the Corps requesting a 30 day extension of the public comment period for the DEIS, echoing her colleague Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska's earlier statement that the current comment period is inadequate. The comment period is currently set to end on May 30.

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EPA: Groundwater Pollution Not Covered by Clean Water Act

Last week, EPA issued a deeply concerning "interpretive statement" that groundwater pollution is not covered by Clean Water Act protections. Meanwhile, WPN member Earthjustice is representing local environmental groups in Hawaii in a case set for the Supreme Court to answer whether or not the Clean Water Act covers pollution that flows through groundwater into other federally protected waters. However, the case against Maui County may be settled out of court.

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Executive Order Severely Limits State Process for Water Quality Certification

In early May, the Trump Administration issued an executive order to drastically limit state authority to block federal projects that would pollute a state's water or degrade aquatic habitat. The order expedites oil, gas, and coal projects by directing federal agencies to cut the time states would have to review permits - to only 60 days, instead of up to a year - under Clean Water Act Section 401's water quality certification process. The order also directs the permit review period to begin when a permit is filed, even if states have not received all information necessary to make a decision.

By short-circuiting state review of complex federal projects, this proposal would make it more likely that states cannot make a decision in time, which effectively waives the state’s ability to object to harmful projects. Read more about one such project - the Jordan Cove Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) Export Project - and WPN member Oregon Wild's call for comments to oppose it.

Another executive order issued the same day would limit environmental review for pipelines and other infrastructure projects that cross borders, giving authority to the President to issue permit decisions while the State Department would only have authority to advise the President on the projects within 60 days.

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Costly Yazoo Pumps Could Worsen Flooding in Other Mississippi River Areas

WPN members and other conservation groups are again fighting the Yazoo Backwater Pumps Project, after EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said that EPA is "reviewing" a 2008 veto that stopped construction of the project. The 2008 veto, which was issued by the George W. Bush Administration, protected 200,000 acres of ecologically significant wetlands in the heart of the Mississippi River flyway. The Governor of Mississippi has been lobbying for the veto review, and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James, the top political official for the Corps of Engineers, has also supported the project in the past. Many WPN members have opposed the project for decades, and last Congress, WPN members fought off an appropriations rider - opposed by 87 groups last January - that would have directed immediate construction of the Yazoo Pumps. The Water Protection Network continues to watch this effort closely.

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Selected Recent Resources & News

From WPN Members

Extreme Weather & Climate Change

Water Pollution & Protections

U.S. Governmental Accountability Office Reports

Other Selected News & Resources 

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Public Notices, Comment Periods, and Upcoming Meetings

Please see past WPN Updates for earlier notices, and visit and federal agencies' own websites for complete listings of public notices, proposed rules, and rules. The Corps of Engineers may post additional public notices and related information not listed above on their division-level or district-level websites. Click here for a map with links to their division and district websites.

Corps of Engineers

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Other Agencies
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