Second environmental group joins lawsuit against Toyota-Mazda

Second environmental group joins lawsuit against Toyota-Mazda

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Another group says they plan to sue over the construction of the Toyota-Mazda plant in Huntsville.

Tennessee Riverkeeper announced in a press release that they have joined the Center for Biological Diversity in filing a formal intent to sue Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing and the city of Huntsville over the construction of the manufacturing plant. This stems from worries that the construction would endanger the habitat of the spring pygmy sunfish.

"This gets us a seat at the table, at the negotiating table. Oftentimes people at the city of Huntsville or major corporations won't take Riverkeeper seriously until we file enforcement actions, and then that gets us a seat at the table," said David Whiteside, founder of Tennessee Riverkeeper.

"We are not opposed to the construction of this plant, we just want to make sure they do it in a way that complies with federal environmental laws," he said.

The Center for Biological Diversity first announced their plans to sue in July.

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In response to this, Toyota-Mazda officials say they are committed to preserving and sustaining the habitat of the spring pygmy sunfish.

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. is committed to preserving and sustaining the habitat of the pygmy sunfish. We will continue engaging with the Center for Biological Diversity, third party experts and other key stakeholders in developing and executing on a conservation strategy that works to preserve the spring pygmy sunfish and its habitat.

The city of Huntsville sent the following statement on July 25:

The City of Huntsville has been working diligently for almost a decade to preserve and sustain the habitat of the Spring Pygmy Sunfish as part of an extensive environmental approval process for the Megasite property. The Spring Pygmy Sunfish environment is better today than when the City of Huntsville purchased the property and better than it has been in the last fifty years when it was a farming operation. The aquifer is protected. We remain confident the designed plan to protect the environment is sound. These measures have been reviewed and approved by technical professionals as well as State and Federal agencies, and we are committed to ensuring these safeguards and best practices remain in place. In doing so, we believe the Moss Spring habitat will remain a healthy safeguard for the Spring Pygmy Sunfish very similar to the nearby habitat located in Blackwell Spring/Blackwell Swamp within the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge.

Whiteside said the enforcement action was "right up our alley and in accordance with our mission."

"God has blessed the great state of Alabama with the most aquatic biodiversity of any other state in the nation. It is our responsibility as good Christians and stewards of his creation to make sure that we protect that. It's not humans' decision to say this fish is worthless, or its too small, or we can't eat it so therefore we don't need it. Every piece of the ecosystem is important to one part or another, and we need to protect all the pieces of God's great ecosystem," said Whiteside.

"Tennessee Riverkeeper believes that we can have a strong economy with an abundance of jobs as well as a strong environment and clean waterways with an abundance of  aquatic diversity. We don't have to pick one or the other, that's a false choice," he said.

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