Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 20, 2018

Contact: Elise Bennett, (727) 755-6950, ebennett@biologicaldiversity.org

Information Sought From Huntsville on Plans for Massive Auto Plant

Lack of Environmental Review, Disclosure Leaves Public in Dark

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a state public records act request with Huntsville officials seeking basic information about the city’s plans for grading, stormwater runoff and environmental monitoring at the site where Toyota and Mazda plan to build a massive automobile factory. 

“Huntsville officials have rammed through approvals to industrialize this environmentally fragile site with virtually no public disclosure,” said Elise Bennett, a staff attorney at the Center. “The city’s secrecy is a serious concern because the factory will be next to the Beaverdam Spring and Creek, an exceptional freshwater network that’s home to the critically endangered spring pygmy sunfish and other imperiled species.”

Clearing and grading have been ongoing at the site for several months. This poses a risk of sediment discharge and other impacts to the springs and sunfish.

Construction is set to begin before the end of the year. Yet little to no information or documentation has been provided to the public about how the site will be developed and what actions will be taken to ensure the springs are not damaged. 

In August the Center and Tennessee Riverkeeper filed a notice of intent to sue Huntsville and Toyota and Mazda over impacts of the planned factory on the sunfish. 

Normally, when a project of this size with likely impacts to an endangered species is proposed, the developer would prepare a habitat conservation plan with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which would involve a public process and environmental review. But because of the Trump administration’s opposition to environmental protection and the city’s rush to develop the site, this did not occur. 

“This project should have gone through a public process with full disclosure of potential damage to the precious Beaverdam spring and stream system,” said Bennett. “In the absence of that, we’re now forced to file this formal environmental records request.” 

Spring pygmy sunfish

Spring pygmy sunfish photo courtesy Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

www.biologicaldiversity.org

More press releases