Between 2013 and 2015, the deep dredge construction project at PortMiami killed more than half a million corals and damaged over 250 acres of their critical habitat, further injuring the already imperiled Florida Reef Tract. The damage from this project led to Miami Waterkeeper and co-plaintiffs Earthjustice, Florida Wildlife Federation, Dive Equipment Manufacturers Association, and the Center for Biological Diversity launching a multi-year Endangered Species Act legal challenge against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) that successfully got hundreds of listed corals rescued from the dredging and 10,000 staghorn corals restored to the reefs.
And yet, it appears that lessons were not learned from the devastation at PortMiami. The proposed Port Everglades project will dredge and deepen channels directly adjacent to or on top of the Florida reef tract and its thriving population of coral colonies. The initial environmental impact assessment (EIS) drafted by the Corps for the Port Everglades project did not even acknowledge the PortMiami destruction to corals. In 2016, Miami Waterkeeper and co-plaintiffs filed suit against the Corps to redo their EIS to fully incorporate the risk to reefs and lessons drawn from PortMiami.
Our litigation forced a new EIS, which took 3 years to develop. We commented on the new draft in early 2021. While there were vast improvements to the EIS, many issues remained unaddressed. Another version of the EIS was released by the Army Corps in February 2022. With only 45 days and 1,700 pages to review, Miami Waterkeeper and our co-plaintiffs provided comments in March 2022.
Our latest comments are intended to ensure that our increasingly threatened and fragile coral habitats are protected to the fullest extent.
Read our latest comment letter to the Corps here.