Trump EPA weighs reviving massive Mississippi flood project


By Ellen Knickmeyer and Jeff Amy, Associated Press

April 3, 2019


WASHINGTON (AP) — As Mississippi’s governor toured massive flooding in the state, the Trump administration said Wednesday that it is giving another look to a long-dead flood control and drainage project in the Mississippi Delta that had been killed by the George W. Bush administration because of its potential impact on wetlands and wildlife.


The project, which the late Sen. John McCain once called “one of the worst projects ever conceived by Congress,” had called for huge pumps to be built at the confluence of the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers in Mississippi. It was rejected by the Bush administration in 2008.


“Had that veto not occurred, we believe that the flooding, particularly in the Yazoo backwater, would have been much less damaging,” said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, after touring the region by helicopter.


Opponents say the pumps could worsen flooding downstream.


After touring the flooded region, Bryant told journalists that he had spent Monday and Tuesday in Washington, lobbying the administration to override the 2008 EPAs decision to kill the project. On Wednesday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler confirmed to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that his agency is now reconsidering that 2008 decision.


Communities along the lower Mississippi River have been dealing with flooding for nearly two months. More than 500,000 acres (200,000 hectares) are submerged in the region, including more than 200,000 acres (80,000 hectares) of farmland. Farmers say flooding is harming them financially.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local agencies are deploying a complex system of levees, dams, floodgates and floodways to try to contain high water and limit damage along the more than 2,000-mile river.


Floodwaters “have placed a tremendous burden on the lives and property of thousands of Mississippians,” Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Mississippi Republican, told Wheeler at Wednesday’s hearing...