By Marisa Escudero, Water Resources Manager, National Wildlife Federation
The New Madrid Levee Project is a proposal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a new 60 foot high, quarter mile long levee and two huge pumping plants along the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri. This project will destroy this rare river-floodplain connection, threaten the safety of low-income river communities, drain an area of wetlands larger than the District of Columbia, and eliminate the most important backwater fisheries habitat in the Middle Mississippi River.
The Corps of Engineers is poised to recommend construction even though its own Environmental Advisory Board has recommended against moving forward. Their report states the “loss of this last remaining connection and its ecosystem functioning would be the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ in terms of the total cumulative impact” to the natural ecosystem. This project has multiple negative repercussions and must be stopped! Ninety conservation organizations; dozens of community leaders from Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky; Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Mark Kirk, Congressman Mike Bost and more than 20,000 members of the public have already called for an EPA veto to stop this boondoggle of a project once-and-for-all. Will you join the call?
- Pits people against profits–Building this levee is a prime example for the need for Environmental Justice. This project will undoubtedly flood many low-income communities in Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky in exchange for the financial benefit of a handful of farmers. Delays in using the floodway have already negatively impacted Illinois communities like Cairo, Olive Branch, Metropolis, Unity, Mounds, and Miller City, as well as Sikeston, MO. This project will increase the likelihood of delays and increase the risk to these and other low-income communities.
- Destroys natural flood plains and natural flood protection–The levee violates Federal Law and Policy and would close off 53,000 acres of wetlands from the Mississippi River, destroying vital fish and wildlife habitat and flood protection equal to the size of our Nation’s Capital!
- Costs YOU money–This project is fully funded by individuals like you; $165 million taxpayer dollars to be exact. You’re footing the bill for this destructive project.
- Experts, Community Leaders, and Economists all agree this project is devastating—The following agencies have publicly commented on the dangers of moving forward with this project: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, Missouri Department of Conservation.
- It could destroy Metropolis–This project is like kryptonite to Superman’s “home,” which has already felt the consequences. It could devastate Metropolis faster than a speeding bullet! Below is a letter from Billy McDaniel, the Mayor for the City of Metropolis.
Community leaders like the Mayor of the City of Metropolis, a city in Southern Illinois that sits on the Ohio River just upstream from its confluence with the Mississippi River, have called out the destruction of the levee:
“The City of Metropolis suffered devastating losses in 2011 due to the delay in the activation of the New Madrid Floodway…When flood fighting and clean-up costs are added, the economic impact to the City approached $1.4 million dollars.”
And have highlighted that this expensive project is a boondoggle that would benefit a handful at the expense of disadvantaged communities:
“The $165 million price tag on this project would amount to a huge taxpayer subsidy for a small number of landowners at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of thousands.”