Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood on Thursday announced that he will file suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
According to a release from the AG's office, the move is to "require the federal government to pay for the extensive environmental and economic damage to the Mississippi Gulf Coast caused by the repeated and lengthy openings of the Bonnet Carre` Spillway in 2019."
The lawsuit will be filed in the name of the State of Mississippi and also seek to "protect the Gulf Coast from future damage by requiring the Corps to adopt updated and scientifically sound methods of flood control and by requiring the Corps to consider the impacts of spillway openings on Mississippi," the release states.
According to the release, the state is required by federal law to give the Corps 60 days' notice prior to filing a lawsuit.
"Mississippi should not be the federal government's dumping ground for polluted flood waters," Hood said in the release. "Our State's environment and economy must be considered and protected just as the Corps protects the environment and economy of our neighboring states."
This year, the Bonnet Carre` Spillway was opened for 123 days and discharged almost 10 trillion gallons of Mississippi River water, the release states.
According to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, the "fresh water of the Mississippi River carries with it industrial pollutants from 31 states and two Canadian provinces."
"The spillway opening has destroyed the State's oyster reefs, decimated the crab and shrimp catch, and killed more dolphins than the 2019 BP Oil Spill," Hood said in the release. "Recreational fishing has been damaged because of toxic algae blooms caused by the influx of fresh water. Coast beaches were closed to swimming during the height of the tourist season because of the age blooms. The full extent of the damage to Mississippi's environment and economy may not be known for years. And worse yet, repeated openings of the Bonnet Carre` Spillway in 2019 and future years will likely cause more overall harm to Mississippi than the one-time BP Oil Spill."
According to the release, Hood has three goals for this lawsuit:
The first is to recover funds to compensate for the losses to the Mississippi Gulf Coast's economy and environment.
The second goal is to recover funds to "rebuild and rehabilitate the oysters reefs and other damaged marine habitat and populations."
Finally, Hood seeks to "limit future damage by directing the Corps to study the environmental impact of spillway openings on the Mississippi Sound and to adopt new procedures for flood control. The protocols for operating spillways are outdated, having been established in the 1930s and 1950s and do not address the present and future conditions of the Mississippi River."
"Our state is blessed with abundant seafood and beautiful beaches," Hood said in the release. "Many hardworking Mississippians depend on fishing and tourism to make a living.
“For too long, Mississippi's interests have been ignored. If we do not take immediate action to require the Corps to change its approach to flood control and limit the use of the Bonnet Carre` Spillway, these ways of life will be threatened. The AG is also working with the Secretary of State who serves as the State Land Commissioner to explore all options concerning damages to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As we move forward, I intend to work closely with all stakeholders, including the Gulf Coast's county and municipal officials, along with the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, to ensure that the Corps fully understands the damage caused to the Mississippi Sound."
According to the release, the lawsuit will seek relief under the "federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and contain other claims under federal law and Mississippi law."