Watchdog Groups Accuse Army Corps of Promoting Boondoggles

Budget hawks and enviros are teaming up to criticize $12 billion worth of Army Corps of Engineers water projects that they say both squander taxpayer money and wreak havoc on ecosystems around the U.S. A report released yesterday by Taxpayers for Common Sense and the National Wildlife Federation singles out particularly wasteful and destructive projects, including a $319 million irrigation scheme in eastern Arkansas, which, say critics, would do massive damage to two national wildlife refuges and destroy critical habitat for a large population of mallard ducks. The report also slams projects that barge salmon around four dams on the Lower Snake River in the Pacific Northwest and that aim to make the Upper Mississippi River more hospitable to barge traffic. Steve Ellis of TCS says the corps has gotten bogged down in pork-barrel politics and “become a scandal of an agency that needs to be reformed.” The corps defends its record and says that all of the criticized projects have undergone rigorous public reviews.