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

In an opinion piece for Bloomberg View, Edward Glaeser argues that the Army Corps of Engineers' influence on development in local communities is too far-reaching.

1 minute read

August 28, 2012, 1:00 PM PDT

By Emily Williams


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."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 in Bloomberg

Satalite image of a bright green lake surrounded by brownish-green land

California’s Largest Natural Lake Turns Green With … Algae

A potentially toxic algal bloom has turned Clear Lake in Northern California bright green, fed by increased runoff from human activity.

June 4, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Walkway at San Gabriel River Park.

From Duck Farm to Parkland

The opening of the San Gabriel River Park expands access to green spaces for residents in the San Gabriel Valley, especially for Avocado Heights and other park-poor communities in the area.

6 hours ago - San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Oak tree with golden hour sun coming through its leaves on a hill in the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California.

Southern California’s Oak Trees are Under Threat

Goldspotted oak borers (GSOB) are invasive pests that are harming and killing oak trees across San Diego, Riverside, Orange, and Los Angeles counties.

7 hours ago - Los Angeles Times

Close-up of natural gas stove burner with blue flames.

Berkeley Voters to Decide on Building Gas Tax

The city could tax large buildings that use gas in lieu of enacting a law that would have banned gas-powered buildings altogether.

June 12 - Smart Cities Dive

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.