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Supreme Justice Declines Missouri's Bid to Halt Plan to Blast Levee

Source: WSJ

Posted on 02 May 2011

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito turned down the state of Missouri's request on Sunday to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from blowing up a levee that would send a wall of water over some 130,000 acres of prime farmland to ease record flooding where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers come together. See related story.

The state, which has argued the plan violated its clean-water laws and that the Corps hasn't done enough to consider alternatives, failed last week to persuade the federal district court in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and the federal appeals court in St. Louis to intervene.

In denying the Missouri petition last week, the federal district court judge found that the Mississippi River Commission's Congressional mandate to protect navigation on the river outweighed Missouri clean water laws and there was no indication that it's decision making was in any way capricious. Neither the appeals court or Justice Alito found reason to overturn the decision.

Missouri filed its petition with Justice Alito, who oversees federal courts in Missouri and six other states in the Eighth U.S. Judicial Circuit.
About 200 residents occupying some 90 homes in the floodway were ordered to evacuate last week.

"Although we acknowledge Missouri finds itself in a very challenging legal situation before the Supreme Court, I want to make sure we exhaust all potential legal remedies and ask every possible court to review the plan proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers," Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement Sunday before the ruling.

"In light of the devastation faced by the citizens of Mississippi County—devastation that will persist in the area for years to come—it is the responsibility of this office to pursue every possible avenue of legal review," he said.