At hearing, Miss. Senator tells EPA Administrator that facts and science will prove pumps are necessary for Miss. Delta flood control.

On Wednesday, the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing for the review of the Fiscal Year 2023 President’s Budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). During EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s appearance at the hearing, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) directed all her attention to the Yazoo Backwater dilemma.

Hyde-Smith said a “quick resolution” is needed to revive the Yazoo Backwater Area flood control pump project that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stopped last November.

Hyde-Smith discussed the EPA’s letter released on November 17, 2021 which overturned the congressionally approved Yazoo Backwater Area flood control pump project.

“I cannot begin to express my frustration and disappointment by your agency’s decisions which was, by all accounts, an abuse of the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act,” Hyde-Smith said.

The Mississippi Senator said that both EPA Administrator Regan and other administration officials including White House Council on Environmental Quality profess that the Yazoo Backwater pumps are a priority and that they’ve been actively looking for a solution

Hyde-Smith asked Regan what the status of that process is and whether they are involving local stakeholders. She also questioned whether the congressionally authorized pumps an option under this administration.

“There are no options off the table, to your question. Green and gray, hard and natural infrastructure solutions are on the table,” Regan said.

Regan said that their teams have started meetings and there are weekly two-hour meetings occurring over the next month to put solutions in front of both leadership at EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“I want to button this thing up, probably not as much as you do, but I want to button this thing up because it’s the right thing to do.  And I believe we can get it done,” Regan told Hyde-Smith.

Regan acknowledged Yazoo Backwater flooding is a major problem and predicted that agencies participating in an interagency council would soon agree on what they believe to be a legally-sound and engineering-durable solution to the Yazoo pump issue.

“It’s been a long time coming and I just hope that this is a quick resolution to this and that it’s not two or three years more down the road because these people in the Mississippi Delta need your help,” Senator Hyde-Smith said. “It did come to a screeching halt after it was congressionally approved. So I think you have a lot of explaining to do. I think you’ve got a lot of corrections to make.”

You can watch the full committee hearing here.