Corps Of Engineers Taking Heat For Ineffective Project

<p>An Army Corps of Engineers project intended to save a Missouri town from flooding by draining a massive wetland has been identified as an ineffective plan. The Corps and its political supporters are under fire for pushing overly expensive projects.</p>
September 22, 2007, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"In the pantheon of dumb Army Corps of Engineers boondoggles, a $112 million flood-control scheme in Missouri's southeast bootheel ranks among the dumbest. It would drain more wetlands than all American developers drained last year, and the Corps has admitted that the town it's supposed to protect will flood just as often (once every 10 years) if and when it's completed. The Corps also admitted that its original economic rationale depended on a math error. In private e-mails, even the agency's top lobbyist described it as 'an economic dud with huge environmental consequences.'"

"Independent investigations - including one by the Pentagon's inspector general - have repeatedly caught the Corps skewing its analyses to justify wasteful and destructive projects that keep its employees busy and its congressional patrons happy. The agency's manipulation of the Missouri project, Judge Robertson wrote, 'gives new meaning to the phrase 'result-oriented decision making.'"

"The St. John's Bayou-New Madrid Floodway project, falsely marketed as the salvation of the waterlogged city of East Prairie, makes swine look like pearls. Approved in 1954, then expanded in 1986, it would wall off the Mississippi River from the last surviving swath of bottomland hardwood floodplain in Missouri, draining an area larger than the District of Columbia. Its only real benefits would come from increased yields for a few well-connected corn and soybean farmers in the floodplain. Nevertheless, the plight of East Prairie persuaded Congress and the Clinton administration to waive local cost-sharing requirements, so the feds are picking up the entire bill. A Corps official admitted under oath that a simple levee around East Prairie would do much more to protect the town at about one-tenth of the cost."

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Published on Thursday, September 20, 2007 in Time
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