The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has the conflicting responsibilities of protecting the country’s wetlands and developing taxpayer-funded water projects, often justifies such projects with questionable technical studies and proceeds with them despite significant environmental costs, concludes the Washington Post in an exhaustive five-day series on the agency. Because of its past record and its power — the agency will play a key role in resolving controversies over oil drilling on Alaska’s North Slope, dam removal on the Snake River in Washington, the restoration of the Florida Everglades, and water use along the Missouri River — the Corps is loathed by environmentalists and even by many officials in other government agencies. Bill Hartwig of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said, “They still think they can defeat Mother Nature with brilliant engineering. They talk about the environment, but they don’t really believe in it.” Congress, many of whose members get political benefits from Corps projects in their districts, is currently battling over the agency’s mission and funding.
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