WRDA Input Opportunities
As we’ve shared in recent WPN Updates, Congress is working on the next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), the bill that authorizes projects and policy changes for the Corps of Engineers. We want to give you an update on current opportunities to weigh in on WRDA:
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has posted discussion drafts of its new WRDA and Drinking Water bills, along with section-by-section analyses, in this press release
- Read the one page summary of the draft legislation here.
- Read the text of the draft WRDA, titled America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, here.
- Read the section-by-section of the draft WRDA here.
- Read the text of the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act here.
- Read the section-by-section of the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act here.
The Committee is accepting public comments/input on the discussion drafts until 4:00 PM ET on Friday, May 1
. Written comments may be submitted to the Committee as a PDF emailed to QFR@epw.senate.gov
, and should include a contact name, mailing address, email address, and phone number. Click here
for more information on the Committee’s process for submitting comments.
House of Representatives:
Members of the House of Representatives have until Friday, May 1
to submit their WRDA recommendations to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. If you have been talking with Members of the House and want to remind them of your priorities for the next WRDA, or if you have not yet reached out to them, now is a good opportunity to do so.
Final Dirty Water Rule Published
On April 21, the Trump administration published its final “Waters of the United States” rule in the Federal Register. The rule defines which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, eliminating protections for more than half of the nation’s wetlands and millions of miles of streams. Among other exclusions, the final rule would end protections for rain-dependent streams, most wetlands, certain ponds and lakes, and interstate waters. On April 28, WPN member Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit challenging the final rule on behalf of conservation groups including WPN members American Rivers, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment America, National Wildlife Federation, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), and South Carolina Coastal Conservation League.
The Clean Water for All Coalition has put together this toolkit, which includes general social media guidance, talking points, and press releases from Coalition members - including those from several WPN members: Clean Water Action, Earthjustice, Environmental Law and Policy Center, NRDC, National Wildlife Federation, Ohio Environmental Council, SELC, and Sierra Club.
More attacks on clean water:
The Administration continues an all-out attack on the Clean Water Act, with proposals to weaken many parts of the law and its implementation. This includes a rule to restrict states' and tribes’ authority to protect local water quality under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which the EPA sent to the White House for review in early April. We expect the final rule to come out in May.
Pebble Mine Lawsuit Dismissed
On April 17, a federal court ruling
dismissed a lawsuit against the proposed Pebble Mine - a toxic, open-pit mine that threatens Alaska's Bristol Bay - that many WPN members and partners staunchly oppose
. The lawsuit had challenged EPA's withdrawal in 2019 of its proposed decision, under Clean Water Act Section 404(c), to protect Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine. The ruling found "EPA’s efforts to protect Bristol Bay under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act akin to enforcement actions, which are unreviewable, and that EPA’s decision to withdraw is an unchallengeable discretionary decision" (Alaska Native News
). Plaintiffs would have 60 days to appeal this decision. Plaintiffs and many others will continue work to ensure that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is enforced and that NEPA documents are properly prepared. The WPN will keep members informed of future developments and opportunities to fight Pebble Mine, such as during permitting processes and the public comment period for the anticipated Final Environmental Impact Statement.
Administration Pushes Destructive Yazoo Pumps Again
On April 16, the Corps of Engineers published a notice of intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Yazoo Backwater Pumps Project. This SEIS is for essentially the same project - fought for many years by many WPN members - that was vetoed in 2008. The veto by the George W. Bush Administration protected 200,000 acres of ecologically significant wetlands in the heart of the Mississippi River flyway. It is important to submit robust scoping comments before the June 15, 2020 comment deadline because the SEIS is now being pushed on an aggressive timeline.
How to Comment:
- By email: YazooBackwater@usace.army.mil
- By mail: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, ATTN: CEMVK-PPMD, 4155 East Clay Street, Room 248, Vicksburg, MS 39183
- By phone: Mr. Kenneth Parrish at 601-631-5006
- Comment deadline: Monday, June 15, 2020
- If your organization is interested in joining other groups in commenting please email Kelly McGinnis at email@example.com.
Take Action Against EPA's Secret Science Rule
At a time when the importance of sound science-based decision-making is painfully clear, the Trump administration has proposed a rule that would impose sweeping restrictions on the types of scientific studies that can inform the regulatory decision-making process. Instead of "strengthening transparency" as the proposal claims to do, it is instead designed to "keep highly respected and peer-reviewed scientific studies from informing government decisions on public health and environmental protection" (Bruce Stein, NWF).
America's Most Endangered Rivers® of 2020 Announced
In mid-April, WPN member American Rivers released its annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®. This year’s report highlights ten rivers imminently threatened by climate change, poor floodplain and watershed management, wetland destruction, dams, mining, or natural gas development. The 2020 America’s Most Endangered Rivers® are:
In addition to announcing the nation’s ten most endangered rivers, American Rivers honors the Delaware River as "River of the Year." The title highlights the success story of the Delaware River - once choked with sewage and industrial pollution and craved up by dams, but now on the mend and thriving.
- Upper Mississippi River, IL, IA, MN, MO, and WI
- Lower Missouri River, IA, KS, MO, and NE
- Big Sunflower River, MS
- Puyallup River, WA
- South Fork Salmon River, ID
- Menominee River, MI and WI
- Rapid Creek, SD
- Okefenokee Swamp & St. Marys River, FL and GA
- Ocklawaha River, FL
- Lower Youghiogheny River, PA
Help urge decision makers to do the right thing for each of the rivers on the list: Click here to take action and share with your networks and membership.
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 4/29: Scoping period for revision of the Ice Harbor Master Plan, WA (Comments accepted 5/1-6/15)
- Published 4/29: Draft Environmental Assessment and Unsigned Finding of No Significant Impact for Revision of 1998 Dale Hollow Dam and Reservoir Water Control Manual, TN and KY (Comment deadline 6/2)
- Published 4/28: Draft RECOVER Northern Estuaries Draft Salinity Envelope Performance Measure, FL (Public webinar on 5/5; comment deadline 5/28)
- Published 4/28: Draft Environmental Assessment for Gavins Point Dam underseepage control measures, SD (Comment deadline 5/27)
- Published 4/27: Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment on Elim Subsistence Harbor Report, Alaska (Comment deadline 5/28)
- Published 4/24: Draft Environmental Assessment for proposal to repair several Salt Creek Dams in and around Lincoln, Nebraska (Comment deadline 5/23)
- Published 4/22: Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment #571 (SEA #571) West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction Levee System St. Charles and St. John the Baptist Parishes, Louisiana (Comment deadline 5/23)
- Published 4/22: Updated draft oil and gas management plan, and new programmatic environmental assessment, for the Lake Sakakawea/Garrison Dam Project in North Dakota (Comment deadline 5/22)
- Published 4/22: Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) Addendum for the Lower Norco Bluffs Toe Protection (Lower Norco Bluffs) portion of the Santa Ana River Mainstem Flood Control Project (SARMP), CA
- Published 4/17: Notice of intent to develop Programmatic Agreement for National Historic Preservation Act for the Kentucky Lock Addition Project, KY (Comment deadline 5/18)
- Published 4/17: Notice of intent to develop Programmatic Agreement for National Historic Preservation Act for the Lease of Donaldson Park to the Town of Celina, Clay County, Tennessee (Comment deadline 5/18)
- Published 4/16: Notice of Intent To Prepare Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Yazoo Area Pump Project (Comment deadline 6/15)
- Published 4/16: Draft Programmatic Agreement for environmental restoration activities at the Fort Wingate Depot Activity, New Mexico (Comment deadline 5/16)
- Published 4/14: Proposed Revision of New England District Compensatory Mitigation Standard Operating Procedures (Comment deadline 5/14)
- Published 4/13: Draft Environmental Assessment and unsigned Finding of No Significant Impact for Proposed Expansion of Lake Cumberland Marina, Lake Cumberland, Russell County, KY (Comment deadline 5/15)
- Published 4/13: Rules and Regulations Governing Public Use of Water Resource Development Projects Administered by the Chief of Engineers (Comment deadline 6/12)
- Published 4/10: Upper Lake Pepin habitat restoration project Draft Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact, WI (Comment deadline 5/11)
- Published 4/10: Sacramento River Bank Protection Project Final Post Authorization Change and Environmental Impact Statement/Report, CA (Comment deadline 5/11)
- Published 4/10: Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for Washington, D.C., and Vicinity Flood Risk Management (FRM) Project at the National Mall and Memorial Park (NAMA) (Comment deadline 5/13)
- Published 4/08: Upper Mississippi River Floodplain Forest Management Environmental Assessment; MN, WI, IA (Comment deadline 5/8)
- Published 4/07: Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and Public Scoping Meeting for Dow Chemical Company's Harris Reservoir Expansion Project, Brazoria County, TX
- Published 4/07: Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and Public Scoping Meeting for the Port of Corpus Christi Channel Deepening Project, Nueces and Aransas Counties, TX
- Published 4/06: Bubbly Creek, South Branch Chicago River final integrated feasibility report, environmental assessment, IL (Comment deadline 5/6)
- Published 4/06: Central Everglades Planning Project South Draft Programmatic Agreement, FL (Comment deadline 5/7)
- Published 4/06: Recommendation for removal of Savannah River training wall, report and Finding of No Significant Impact, GA (Comment deadline 5/6)
- Published 4/06: Regional General Permit (RGP) 20-02 for invasive species management in Nashville District (Comment deadline 5/7)
- Published 4/03: Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and proposed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for sand sources for Dade County Beach Erosion Control and Hurricane Protection Project, FL (Comment deadline 5/4)
- Published 4/01: Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Supplemental Joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report for the 2007 Folsom Dam Safety and Flood Damage Reduction Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report, CA (Comment deadline 5/8)
- Published 3/31: Draft programmatic environmental assessment on snow and soil moisture monitoring network in the Upper Missouri River Basin (Comment deadline 5/1)
- Published 3/31: Proposal to replace and revise the statewide Maine General Permit, pursuant to 33 CFR 325.S(c)(l) (Comment deadline 4/30)
- Published 3/31: Popo Agie River Flood Risk Management Study, WY
Other Agency Notices
- Published 4/22 by NRCS: Notice of Availability of the Mississippi Trustee Implementation Group Draft Restoration Plan II Environmental Assessment: Wetlands, Coastal, and Nearshore Habitats and Oysters (Comment deadline 5/22)
- Published 4/22 by FEMA: Changes in Flood Hazard Determinations in counties in AK, AZ, CA, IL, MI, NV, NY (Effective dates and comment deadlines vary by location - see notice for details)
- Published 4/21 by the Corps and EPA: Final Rule: The Navigable Waters Protection Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States” (Effective on 6/22) See above in this email for more information.
- Published 4/20 by EPA: Notice of Availability of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group Draft Supplemental Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Cypremort Point State Park Improvements Project Modification (Comment deadline 5/20)
- Published 4/15 by EPA: Final Rule: Updates to NPDES eRule Data Elements To Reflect MS4 General Permit Remand Rule (Effective on 5/15)
- Published 4/10 by EPA: Notice of Recent Specifications Review and Request for Information on WaterSense Program (Comment deadline 6/09)
- Published 4/10 by EPA: Notice of Availability of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #6: Wetlands, Coastal, and Nearshore Habitats and Finding of No Significant Impact
- Published 4/03 by FEMA: Technical Mapping Advisory Council request for applicants (Application deadline 5/31)