Should the Army Decide What Projects are Right for Your Neighborhood?

In an opinion piece for <em>Bloomberg View</em>, Edward Glaeser argues that the Army Corps of Engineers' influence on development in local communities is too far-reaching.
August 28, 2012, 1pm PDT | Emily Williams
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News that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently approved the construction of a garbage transfer station to be located in Manhattan's Upper East Side, inspired Glaeser's screed against the Corps' authority. Argues Glaeser, "We need a system where the Army Corps is confined to providing engineering expertise and transportation funding, in the same way that federal school spending is tied to performance."

Glaeser doesn't necessarily oppose programs put in place by the Corps, but he isn't keen on the idea that they are running the show, and claims local stakeholders have better know-how to evaluate projects' possible impacts. A prime example of the Corps' deficiencies, he writes, was the flood system that failed during Hurricane Katrina. For Glaeser the lesson learned from New Orleans is that, "The delegation of responsibility to a remote authority seems sure to create future disasters."

He emphasizes the importance of comprehensiveness in project approvals, and believes that agencies like the Army Corps and the EPA are vital to the process, but should not be given final authority. "Let the EPA evaluate the environmental consequences of infrastructure," he says, "but then ensure that final decision-making power sits with a body that will consider more than just the environment."

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Published on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 in Bloomberg
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