Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 17, 2023

Contact:

Perrin de Jong, (828) 252-4646, perrin@biologicaldiversity.org

Rare Alabama Mussel Saved From Certain Extinction

Alabama Power Abandons Destructive Facility on Chandler Mountain

STEELE, Ala.— The Center for Biological Diversity and allies celebrated a win today when Alabama Power filed a petition to surrender its preliminary permit for the Chandler Mountain pumped storage project.

The project would have destroyed a highly sensitive, biodiverse watershed in Alabama that’s home to the world’s last population of Canoe Creek clubshell mussels. Alabama Power’s petition to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission signals the termination of the licensing process.

“This dirty, energy-wasting, fossil fuel-burning boondoggle would have driven Alabama’s Canoe Creek clubshell extinct and jeopardized dozens of other imperiled animals and plants with extinction,” said Perrin de Jong, Southeast staff attorney at the Center. “This is a big victory for Alabama’s wildlife and wild waters and everyone who loves them. I couldn’t be happier to see this terrible project get flushed down the tubes.”

The project would have flooded the headwaters of Little Canoe Creek East on and around Chandler Mountain to build a pumped storage facility to add electrical storage capacity to its grid. The facility would have consumed more electricity than it produced from Alabama Power’s fossil fuel-heavy power grid.

Little Canoe Creek East is a part of the Big Canoe Creek watershed, which is identified by the Alabama Rivers and Streams Network as one of the most significant and biodiverse watersheds in the state. The entirety of Big Canoe Creek watershed was at risk of significant water-quality harms from the project, as was all of the designated critical habitat for the endangered Canoe Creek clubshell, as well as critical habitat for the threatened finelined pocketbook and trispot darter.

Only 25 individual Canoe Creek clubshell mussels are known to survive in the world, all within two critical habitat segments in the Big Canoe Creek watershed. The species is in such dire trouble that no successful reproduction among these 25 aging individuals has been observed by scientists for years. Flooding the headwaters of their habitat and degrading their water quality would have destroyed critical habitat they need to survive and driven them extinct.

The Center for Biological Diversity worked with allies from Alabama Rivers Alliance, Coosa Riverkeeper, Energy Alabama, and Friends of Big Canoe Creek to halt the project. The project also provoked resistance from Chandler Mountain residents whose farms and homes were threatened.

RScanoe_creek_clubshell_todd_fobian
Canoe Creek clubshell photo by Todd Fobian/Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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