Reeves: ‘Biden Administration needs to finish the damn pumps — period’

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

As he heads into his fourth year in Mississippi’s top office, Gov. Tate Reeves said he wanted to make one thing clear: The Yazoo Backwater Pumps Project should be a top priority at the federal level.

“I was elected in November of 2019, and one of the first meetings I had as the governor-elect was in Washington, D.C., with the Trump Administration and the head of the EPA,” Reeves said when discussing his administration’s involvement in the project.

The meeting Reeves described, which also included Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, was one of the discussions that contributed to the approval of the Yazoo Backwater Pumps Project under the Trump Administration.

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However, in November 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency rescinded its approval of the project following a request for inquiry by District 2 Congressional Rep. Bennie Thompson, who represents the South Mississippi Delta.

“It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for them to have done that, and really they have to answer the question as to why they have done that,” Reeves said. “It had been approved, it had gone through literally years and years and years of conversation of debate, of analysis.

“… It was time for it to go forward and for whatever reason, when President Biden was elected, Congressman Thompson and the administration decided to change all of that,” he added.

The governor continued, saying he’s attempted to advocate for the project at the federal level. He also said he finds the situation “frustrating,” especially when the project was approved once before, and expressed solidarity with residents of the Yazoo Backwater area.

Reeves said he looked forward to Wednesday’s Community Engagement Sessions hosted by the Department of the Army and the EPA. Although he would not be in attendance, he said he planned to stay informed regarding topics discussed and plans put in place as a result of the sessions.

The community engagement sessions are part of a five-month process committed to by the Department of the Army and EPA.

“I believe that they need to take swift action to finish the pumps and help relieve the immense impact of the floodwaters and it’s just very frustrating to me,” he said. “I look forward to seeing what the EPA has to say (this week), if, in fact, they come.”

Above all, Reeves said he understood and empathized with those impacted by flooding in the Yazoo Backwater area — and he was just as tired of waiting for the pumps project to be complete as they are.

“Let me be clear: the Biden Administration needs to finish the damn pumps — period.”