- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri Congressman Jason Smith has written to President Barack Obama to push for the completion of a Missouri Bootheel region levee after concerns were raised about the project.

The $165 million New Madrid Floodway would close a quarter-mile-long gap in the southern end of a network of levees to protect rich Missouri agricultural land from frequent flooding from the Mississippi River. Smith’s letter was sent Wednesday, one day after community leaders said the project would cause greater flooding concerns in Cairo, Illinois, and other predominantly black communities in the region, the Southeast Missourian (https://bit.ly/13noqsP) reports.

In another letter to Obama, nearly 100 environmental groups renewed their longstanding concern that the project would threaten wetlands and habitat for fish and wildlife. That letter suggested that the Environmental Protection Agency use its authority to veto the project through a rarely used provision in the Clean Water Act.

Smith, however, urged the president to “resist any requests” to use an EPA veto. He said the people of Southeast Missouri have spent 60 years waiting for the floodway project and “do not appreciate being held hostage by a radical environmentalist agenda.”

Smith also said he reviewed many of the letters written to the president Tuesday and said many expressing their opposition were from the Kansas City, Missouri, area and did not live in the affected region.

As for the concerns the project will increase flooding dangers in Southern Illinois, Smith said this belief is “unfounded and not based in science.” He also expressed concern that interference by the president would “derail” the project.

“The Corps of Engineers has repeatedly determined that this project creates no additional risk of flooding to upstream or downstream communities,” he wrote.

A final environmental impact statement must be formulated before a decision is made whether to proceed.


Information from: Southeast Missourian, https://www.semissourian.com

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