The Army Corps of Engineers discarded the work of economists who found that the costs of an extensive lock and dam project on the Upper Mississippi River would far outweigh the benefits, a senior Corps economist is charging in a legal affidavit. Donald Sweeney led an economics team in producing a study of the project, but when the study didn’t reach the conclusion that senior officials at the Corps wanted, they took the study away from Sweeney and illegally manipulated it to manufacture a rationale for the billion-dollar project, Sweeney said. The Corps is now poised to recommend doubling the size of five barge locks on the Mississippi and possibly two more on the Illinois, a project that enviros say would further degrade fragile river ecosystems. Environmental Defense and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility are asking for a federal investigation into Sweeney’s allegations.