Is the Yazoo Pump finally dead?
U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock last month ruled against it.
But then, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had previously vetoed the project as provided under the Clean Water Act.
The Board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners had challenging the EPA veto.
It’s really a terrible idea. Democratic Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt called the plan to build the world’s largest pump in the south Delta “a cockamamie, godawful project.”
Even Republican President George W. Bush opposed this project as wasteful, refusing to fund it in his budgets.
It is the epitome of “pork,” which the EPA’s independent economic analysis demonstrated, that the $220 million project would produce less than 14 cents of agricultural benefits for each dollar spent. And for what?
The analysis showed that taxpayers would wind up paying more in farm subsidy payments, which would constitute almost the entire benefit in increased farm profits.
And, again for what? Or, more accurately, for whom? Said the EPA: “The ownership of the farmed land is in large tracts and held by few landowners in the region.”
In case that wasn’t clear enough, the EPA said,”this plan is formulated principally to protect the owners (of that land).”
Back in the ’40s, it almost made sense to build the pumps; it would complete the Delta land clearing that began in the 1800s, and projects that pushed water to marginal south Delta lands. But the economics of agriculture changed.
“The Pumps ‘boondoggle’ rose to the level of being one of only 11 projects ever vetoed in the 40-year history of the Clean Water Act,” noted Cynthia Sarthou of Gulf Restoration Network. The Network, the Sierra Club, American Rivers, National Wildlife Federation, Mississippi Wildlife Federation and Environmental Defense Fund intervened on behalf of the EPA in the legal proceeding.
“You would have to believe that this ruling … kills this project deader than a hammer,” said Robert Wiygul of Waltzer and Wiygul Law Firm, who represented several of the conservation organizations.
Flood control is essential to the Mississippi Delta. But flood-control projects must make sense, fiscally and environmentally. The Yazoo Pump Project loses on all accounts. It’s just not feasible.
But will it stay dead? If the “conservatives” – tea partiers and others – in Congress are telling the truth about wanting to save taxpayers’ money, they should ensure that, like Dracula, the Yazoo Pump has a stake in its heart, never to rise again.
6:47 PM, Apr. 11, 2011