2009 America’s Most Endangered Rivers: Pascagoula River, MS

#9 Pascagoula River, Mississippi

Threat: New petroleum storage
Partners: Gulf Restoration Network

Known as Mississippi’s “Singing River,” the Pascagoula flows freely through the heart of the state’s ancient bottomland swamps before reaching the Gulf of Mexico in a rich network of channels and bayous. The river is an important nursery for fish and wildlife and helps support a fishing industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But this natural treasure could be lost if the U.S. Department of Energy uses the river to hollow out natural salt domes for future storage of 160 million barrels of oil under a project initiated under the Bush administration. Congress and the Obama administration should deny this misguided project that would waste taxpayer dollars on outdated oil infrastructure and threaten the clean water and health of the Pascagoula, and instead focus efforts on reducing the nation’s dependence on oil. Learn More

UPDATE (October 2009): Despite continued local opposition, the Pascagoula River is still threatened by a plan for the Richton Salt Project to build the petroleum storage facility near Richton, Mississippi. However, the timeline for the project continues to shift.

Originally, the DOE was set to release a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) about the proposed project in April, but this report has yet to be released. It is unclear when the exact release date will be, but once this occurs, it will trigger a two month long public comment period. Local activists and organizations are continuing to organize opposition to the project.

Recently, the U.S. Congress passed the FY2010 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act which provides $25 million for the Richton project. While this recent funding is not good news for the river, the project is in stasis right now as both sides of the issue await the long-delayed release of the SEIS that will impact the fate of this important river.