Below is the press release that St. Johns RIVERKEEPER released on 1/22/18.
Jacksonville, FL — On January 19, 2018, Judge Marcia Morales Howard issued an order denying St. Johns RIVERKEEPER's Motion for Preliminary Injunction to prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and JaxPort from proceeding with plans to dredge the St. Johns River.
St. Johns RIVERKEEPER was seeking further analysis by the Corps of potential flooding impacts and JaxPort’s revised plans for an 11-mile project before the Deep Dredge could begin.
St. Johns RIVERKEEPER will continue with its ongoing challenge of the Deep Dredge in federal court due to the unmitigated harm that will occur to the St. Johns River and its tributaries and an insufficient environmental and economic assessment of the project by the Army Corps of Engineers.
St. Johns RIVERKEEPER filed the motion due to the failure of the Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate the likelihood of additional flooding as a result of the project and the economic viability of JaxPort’s publicly-announced plans to revise the scope of the dredging from 13 miles to 11 miles.
During the January 4 injunction hearing, the Corps admitted that the agency did not conduct a flood analysis to determine potential impacts, despite concluding that the Deep Dredge will increase the water level in the St. Johns by up to one foot due to increased tides and storm surge in some areas. However, the Corps had previously committed to a special City Council Task Force and federal agencies that no induced flooding would occur.
In addition, JaxPort revealed that it still plans to dredge 13 miles of the St. Johns River, backtracking on last year’s announcement that the Deep Dredge would be shortened to 11 miles. While an 11-mile project would reduce the cost of dredging, it would not reach the pivotal $230 million TraPac terminal, limiting JaxPort’s ability to attract the larger Post-Panamax ships. As a result, the Corps would need to reevaluate the economic benefits to determine if the revised plan still qualified for federal approval and funding.
“Unfortunately, the decision by the Court allows the Corps and JaxPort to begin this risky project before fulfilling their obligation to the river and this community,” states Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper. “We can’t afford to wait until we experience more flooding or for JaxPort to make up its mind on the scope of the project before fully assessing the environmental and economic impacts of the dredging. Once the damage is done, it will be too late.”
While the Judge’s decision allows the first phase of the dredging to proceed, the order does permit St. Johns RIVERKEEPER to pursue its unresolved concerns regarding the impacts from additional flooding in the ongoing legal challenge of the Corps’ environmental study of the project.
Click here to read Judge Howard's Order.
For more information about the Deep Dredge and its impacts, click on the links below: