Sen. Roger Wicker and Rep. Bennie Thompson are hosting federal agency officials in Rolling Fork on Wednesday for a listening session to discuss the area’s regular flooding.
The event comes months after the Environmental Protection Agency decided to reinstate its veto of the Yazoo Pumps project, a long-debated flood control proposal that the agency revisited under the Trump administration. The EPA originally vetoed the project — which has the support of top Mississippi politicians including Wicker, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Gov. Tate Reeves — in 2008 due to its potential effects on wetlands in the South Delta.
Since the decision to reinstate the veto last November, both Wicker and Hyde-Smith have pressed the EPA to reconsider the project during congressional committee meetings. In May, Wicker argued that the high rate of poverty in the South Delta makes flood control in the area a suitable project for President Biden’s focus on environmental justice.
Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory — along with officials from the EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — will appear at Wednesday’s roundtable discussion, according to an invitation to the event local community organizer and attorney Ty Pinkins shared with Mississippi Today.
Thompson, who represents the South Delta in Congress, has expressed cautious support for the pumps project in recent years, citing an estimated $500 million price tag and suggesting that alternatives should be on the table as well.
Thompson also questioned the EPA’s decision to reverse the 2008 veto during the Trump administration, and last year requested that the agency investigate the matter after reports that officials had ignored scientists’ concerns about the Yazoo Pumps.
Opponents of the project point to other solutions with federal funding available, such as buyouts and elevating structures.
The event will take place at 5:30 p.m. at South Delta High School in Rolling Fork.