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Federal Judge Rejects St. Johns Riverkeeper's Bid To Halt River Deepening

The St. Johns River is being deepened to accomodate larger cargo ships.

A federal judge has ruled against the St. Johns Riverkeeper’s attempt to halt deepening of the St. Johns River, saying the non-profit did not meet the high burden of showing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to assess the environmental impacts of dredging the river for bigger cargo container ships.

WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reports the St. Johns Riverkeeper, which advocates for the river’s natural health, filed the lawsuit in April 2017 and expanded the legal challenge after Hurricane Irma caused massive flooding in September 2017.

The Riverkeeper contended deepening the river would result in even worse flooding that the Corps should have evaluated to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard issued a ruling Tuesday that granted a summary judgment in favor of the Corps and JaxPort, which is the local partner on the deepening project that would cost about $700 million to deepen 13 miles of the river.

“As the entity challenging the Corps decision, Riverkeeper bears the difficult burden of establishing that the Corps failed to comply with NEPA’s procedural requirements,” Howard wrote in her 73-page order. 

An expanded version of this story is at