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  • Louisiana Leads in Army Corps Spending

    Money Flowed to Questionable Projects
    State Leads in Army Corps Spending, but Millions Had Nothing to Do With Floods

    By Michael Grunwald
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, September 8, 2005; A01

    Before Hurricane Katrina breached a levee on the New Orleans Industrial Canal, the Army Corps of Engineers had already launched a $748 million construction project at that very location. But the project had nothing to do with flood control. The Corps was building a huge new lock for the canal, an effort to accommodate steadily increasing barge traffic.

    Except that barge traffic on the canal has been steadily decreasing.

    In Katrina's wake, Louisiana politicians and other critics have complained about paltry funding for the Army Corps in general and Louisiana projects in particular. But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large.

    Much of that Louisiana money was spent to try to keep low-lying New Orleans dry. But hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state's congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending, Louisiana's representatives have kept bringing home the bacon.

    For example, after a $194 million deepening project for the Port of Iberia flunked a Corps cost-benefit analysis, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) tucked language into an emergency Iraq spending bill ordering the agency to redo its calculations. The Corps also spends tens of millions of dollars a year dredging little-used waterways such as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the Atchafalaya River and the Red River -- now known as the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway, in honor of the project's congressional godfather -- for barge traffic that is less than forecast.

    The Industrial Canal lock is one of the agency's most controversial projects, sued by residents of a New Orleans low-income black neighborhood and cited by an alliance of environmentalists and taxpayer advocates as the fifth-worst current Corps boondoggle. In 1998, the Corps justified its plan to build a new lock -- rather than fix the old lock for a tiny fraction of the cost -- by predicting huge increases in use by barges traveling between the Port of New Orleans and the Mississippi River.

    In fact, barge traffic on the canal had been plummeting since 1994, but the Corps left that data out of its study. And barges have continued to avoid the canal since the study was finished, even though they are visiting the port in increased numbers.

    Pam Dashiell, president of the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, remembers holding a protest against the lock four years ago -- right where the levee broke Aug. 30. Now she's holed up with her family in a St. Louis hotel, and her neighborhood is underwater. "Our politicians never cared half as much about protecting us as they cared about pork," Dashiell said.

    Yesterday, congressional defenders of the Corps said they hoped the fallout from Hurricane Katrina would pave the way for billions of dollars of additional spending on water projects. Steve Ellis, a Corps critic with Taxpayers for Common Sense, called their push "the legislative equivalent of looting."

    Louisiana's politicians have requested much more money for New Orleans hurricane protection than the Bush administration has proposed or Congress has provided. In the last budget bill, Louisiana's delegation requested $27.1 million for shoring up levees around Lake Pontchartrain, the full amount the Corps had declared as its "project capability." Bush suggested $3.9 million, and Congress agreed to spend $5.7 million.

    Administration officials also dramatically scaled back a long-term project to restore Louisiana's disappearing coastal marshes, which once provided a measure of natural hurricane protection for New Orleans. They ordered the Corps to stop work on a $14 billion plan, and devise a $2 billion plan instead.

    But overall, the Bush administration's funding requests for the key New Orleans flood-control projects for the past five years were slightly higher than the Clinton administration's for its past five years. Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the chief of the Corps, has said that in any event, more money would not have prevented the drowning of the city, since its levees were designed to protect against a Category 3 storm, and the levees that failed were already completed projects. Strock has also said that the marsh-restoration project would not have done much to diminish Katrina's storm surge, which passed east of the coastal wetlands.

    "The project manager for the Great Pyramids probably put in a request for 100 million shekels and only got 50 million," said John Paul Woodley Jr., the Bush administration official overseeing the Corps. "Flood protection is always a work in progress; on any given day, if you ask whether any community has all the protection it needs, the answer is almost always: Maybe, but maybe not."

    The Corps had been studying the possibility of upgrading the New Orleans levees for a higher level of protection before Katrina hit, but Woodley said that study would not have been finished for years. Still, liberal bloggers, Democratic politicians and some GOP defenders of the Corps have linked the catastrophe to the underfunding of the agency.

    "We've been hollering about funding for years, but everyone would say: There goes Louisiana again, asking for more money," said former Democratic senator John Breaux. "We've had some powerful people in powerful places, but we never got what we needed."

    That may be true. But those powerful people -- including former senators Breaux, Johnston and Russell Long, as well as former House committee chairmen Robert Livingston and W.J. "Billy" Tauzin -- did get quite a bit of what they wanted. And the current delegation -- led by Landrieu and GOP Sen. David Vitter -- has continued that tradition.

    The Senate's latest budget bill for the Corps included 107 Louisiana projects worth $596 million, including $15 million for the Industrial Canal lock, for which the Bush administration had proposed no funding. Landrieu said the bill would "accelerate our flood control, navigation and coastal protection programs." Vitter said he was "grateful that my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee were persuaded of the importance of these projects."

    Louisiana not only leads the nation in overall Corps funding, it places second in new construction -- just behind Florida, home of an $8 billion project to restore the Everglades. Several controversial projects were improvements for the Port of New Orleans, an economic linchpin at the mouth of the Mississippi. There were also several efforts to deepen channel for oil and gas tankers, a priority for petroleum companies that drill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    "We thought all the projects were important -- not just levees," Breaux said. "Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but navigation projects were critical to our economic survival."

    Overall, Army Corps funding has remained relatively constant for decades, despite the "Program Growth Initiative" launched by agency generals in 1999 without telling their civilian bosses in the Clinton administration. The Bush administration has proposed cuts in the Corps budget, and has tried to shift the agency's emphasis from new construction to overdue maintenance. But most of those proposals have died quietly on Capitol Hill, and the administration has not fought too hard to revive them.

    In fact, more than any other federal agency, the Corps is controlled by Congress; its $4.7 billion civil works budget consists almost entirely of "earmarks" inserted by individual legislators. The Corps must determine that the economic benefits of its projects exceed the costs, but marginal projects such as the Port of Iberia deepening -- which squeaked by with a 1.03 benefit-cost ratio -- are as eligible for funding as the New Orleans levees.

    "It has been explicit national policy not to set priorities, but instead to build any flood control or barge project if the Corps decides the benefits exceed the costs by 1 cent," said Tim Searchinger, a senior attorney at Environmental Defense. "Saving New Orleans gets no more emphasis than draining wetlands to grow corn and soybeans."

    Source

  • #2
    But I thought the Bush Administration cut funding for levee projects because it hates poor black people and would rather them drown.

    I think you should check your source pgrote. I'm sure you've got this wrong. What does Maureen Dowd have to say on the matter or Randi Rhodes? They are far more reliable sources.
    "You can't handle my opinions." Moedrabowsky

    Jeffro is a hell of a good man.

    "A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel." - Robert Frost

    Comment


    • #3
      Now lets see a similar scrutinizing of Corps funds for the other 49 states so we have a point of reference.

      Its pretty much a no-brainer that the Corps would spend alot in Louisiana, given the New Orleans situation.
      “I’ve always stated, ‘I’m a Missouri Tiger,’” Anderson said March 13 after Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, adding, “I’m excited about what’s taking place here.”

      Asked then if he would talk to his players about the situation, he said, “They know me, and that’s where the trust comes in.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Razzy@Sep 12 2005, 09:31 AM
        Its pretty much a no-brainer that the Corps would spend alot in Louisiana, given the New Orleans situation.
        Well, duh.

        The point is that money was spent by the federal government across many administrations in Louisiana. So they argument about cutting funds or ignoring Louisiana, pardon the pun, doesn't hold water.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Razzy@Sep 12 2005, 08:31 AM
          Now lets see a similar scrutinizing of Corps funds for the other 49 states so we have a point of reference.

          Its pretty much a no-brainer that the Corps would spend alot in Louisiana, given the New Orleans situation.
          Context?! You want context? No no no -- Razzy. That just won't do. Context is never important in a good old fashion Bush bash. Certainly you understand these rules.
          "You can't handle my opinions." Moedrabowsky

          Jeffro is a hell of a good man.

          "A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel." - Robert Frost

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by pgrote+Sep 12 2005, 09:35 AM-->
            QUOTE(pgrote @ Sep 12 2005, 09:35 AM)

          • #7
            Originally posted by Razzy+Sep 12 2005, 10:17 AM-->
            QUOTE(Razzy @ Sep 12 2005, 10:17 AM)
            Originally posted by [email protected] 12 2005, 09:35 AM

          • #8
            Originally posted by Lois Lane+Sep 12 2005, 09:25 AM-->
            QUOTE(Lois Lane @ Sep 12 2005, 09:25 AM)
            Originally posted by [email protected] 12 2005, 10:17 AM
            Originally posted by [email protected] 12 2005, 09:35 AM

          • #9
            Originally posted by FAR52+Sep 12 2005, 10:31 AM-->
            QUOTE(FAR52 @ Sep 12 2005, 10:31 AM)
            Originally posted by Lois [email protected] 12 2005, 09:25 AM
            Originally posted by [email protected] 12 2005, 10:17 AM
            Originally posted by [email protected] 12 2005, 09:35 AM

          • #10
            Originally posted by Lois Lane+Sep 12 2005, 09:25 AM-->
            QUOTE(Lois Lane @ Sep 12 2005, 09:25 AM)
            Originally posted by [email protected] 12 2005, 10:17 AM
            Originally posted by [email protected] 12 2005, 09:35 AM

          • #11
            Originally posted by FAR52@Sep 12 2005, 08:16 AM
            But I thought the Bush Administration cut funding for levee projects because it hates poor black people and would rather them drown.
            I think his quick action and the fact that he didn't just stand by and leave them for dead in filth without food or fresh water proves this not to be the case
            Damn these electric sex pants!

            26+31+34+42+44+46+64+67+82+06 = 10

            Bring back the death penalty for corporations!

            Comment


            • #12
              Here is an article about the Florida Everglades project...

              http://slate.msn.com/id/2082577/

              The Corps Cored
              The Bushies take a big bite out of the Army Corps of Engineers budget.
              By Michael Grunwald
              Posted Monday, May 5, 2003, at 3:08 PM PT



              Forcing the Army Corps in line

              The Bush administration is maniacally intolerant of dissent. It doesn't give a damn what Congress thinks about anything. The good news is: That combination of enforced loyalty and executive arrogance is reining in the environmentally disastrous, economically ludicrous pork-barrel projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This fledgling corps reform campaign hasn't gotten much attention—because "corps reform" sounds like something Michael Dukakis might read about on the beach, and environmentalists are too busy portraying President Bush as the second coming of the Exxon Valdez to give credit where it's due—but corps reform could end up doing more to benefit the American environment than a dozen Arctic refuges.

              Take the Oregon Inlet jetties project, a $108 million boondoggle that for years was the pet project of Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C. The corps wanted to build two of the world's largest jetties near the tourist beaches of North Carolina's Outer Banks, ostensibly to protect local fishermen who had complained about treacherous seas. But scientists had warned that the jetties could create a serious erosion problem, ravaging the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. And the General Accounting Office had concluded that the corps study justifying the jetties was wildly flawed; the project's cost to taxpayers worked out to more than $500,000 per affected boat.

              For those of us who follow the surreal multibillion-dollar world of water projects, there is only one surprising thing about that paragraph: It is written in the past tense. That's because the Oregon Inlet project died Thursday at the age of 33. It was killed by the White House, in one of the boldest presidential efforts to stop a water project since President Carter enraged Congress with a "hit list" targeting 19 of them in 1977. Every modern presidential administration has wanted to stop stinkers like Oregon Inlet, but every previous administration has been stymied by disobedient corps officials who see boondoggles as their livelihood and powerful congressional porkers who use the corps to steer jobs and money to their constituents. But the Bush team doesn't allow disloyalty, and it doesn't kowtow to Congress. Instead, it has cut the corps budget, frozen all new construction, and ordered the corps to focus on projects with real benefits and less outrageous environmental costs. The result should save money and wetlands.

              The Army Corps is one of the most bizarre bureaucracies in the federal government and one of the most effective at generating work to keep itself busy. From its roots as a tiny regiment in George Washington's army, it has grown into a public works behemoth with 35,000 employees—more than the departments of Labor, Education, and Energy combined. A third of them work on military programs that are usually uncontroversial—the recent flap over the contract to Halliburton in Iraq was an exception—but the rest focus on civil works that reflect the agency's addictions to concrete and the control of nature. The corps has dredged and deepened America's ports and harbors, armored and manhandled America's rivers, and pumped sand onto America's beaches. It has built thousands of dams, dikes, locks, levees, seawalls, and floodgates, often justified by dubious economic benefits. And in the late 1990s, under leaders who behaved like dot-com executives seeking to increase market share—"Seek Growth Opportunities" was actually one of three planks of the agency's "Corps Vision"—the corps mission expanded to include construction of schools and sewage plants, cleanup of hazardous and radioactive waste, and massive restoration projects designed to revive ecosystems it damaged in the past. It is now overseeing an $8 billion effort to resuscitate the Florida Everglades, the largest environmental project in world history.

              Over the years, the corps has become a true rogue agency, operating virtually independently of its supposed bosses in the executive branch, taking marching orders almost exclusively from the congressional porkers who lard its budget with their pet projects. The corps has clashed with every president since Franklin Roosevelt, and it has won almost every battle, thanks to its protection racket on Capitol Hill. In 2000, for example, after corps leaders were caught manipulating an economic study in order to justify a billion-dollar Mississippi River project and devising a secret "Program Growth Initiative" in order to boost their budget by 50 percent, the Clinton administration tried to issue a few mild guidelines reminding them to obey civilian authorities. But a few powerful senators vowed that the guidelines would not stand, so the administration withdrew them a week later. Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., then proposed legislative language designed to prevent any administration from changing anything about the corps at any time.

              The Bush administration does not get bullied like that. The early proof came just five months after then-Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., persuaded Bush to name former Mississippi Congressman Mike Parker to oversee the corps. Parker was accustomed to the annual kabuki game accompanying corps budgets: Presidents always propose cutting them, but Congress gleefully restores the cuts. So when he testified before the Senate Budget Committee, he told corps defenders like Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Bond that the agency needed much more money than the Bush budget was offering. Budget Director Mitch Daniels promptly shot off a memo to the White House, complaining that Parker and the senators "had reached convivial agreement that the president's budget is unacceptable and probably just a cynical ploy." And Bush just as promptly fired Parker, the first administration official to get the ax. Republicans and Democrats on the Hill howled in outrage—one proposed a tickertape parade for Parker; another lumped the Daniels budget office in with the "axis of evil"—but Bush aides made it clear they could not care less. The administration's only public statement was to wish the critics a happy Valentine's Day.

              Daniels, a tight-fisted budget hawk who was once spotted picking change out of a toilet in college, has been the administration's most aggressive advocate of corps reform. He rejected the corps justification of its $140 million Dallas Floodway Extension, a ridiculous flood-control scheme pushed by GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. He pushed a "no new starts" policy that has forced the corps to focus on its $23 billion backlog of approved projects. And his budget zeroed out some of the worst corps stinkers, including a $188 million plan to build the world's largest flood-control pump to drain the lower Mississippi Delta and a $319 million irrigation bonanza for a few Arkansas rice farmers. "Mitch Daniels," one liberal enviro says, "is why God invented conservative Republicans." Corps leaders have begun to absorb his message, pledging that the era of mission creep is over, vowing to rebuild their shattered credibility. The general in charge of civil works recently issued a stunning memo acknowledging that an "overall decline" in corps planning was having "unacceptable consequences" on the agency's recommendations to Congress.

              Now the White House Council on Environmental Quality has scuttled the Oregon Inlet jetties, arguing that the clear costs to taxpayers and barrier beaches do not justify the hazy benefits to fishermen. "We're a cost-benefit administration," says CEQ chairman James Connaughton. If that's true, then many corps projects could be in deep trouble. Even an internal Pentagon investigation in 2000 concluded that corps cost-benefit analyses are systematically skewed to justify large-scale construction projects.

              Of course, the corps is still beloved on Capitol Hill, and there could be political consequences if the Bush administration keeps pushing for change. Some historians believe that Carter's hit list ruined his relationship with Congress—and he only managed to kill one of the 19 projects on the list. It is not yet clear how deeply President Bush is willing to antagonize traditional corps defenders like the Farm Bureau, the barge industry, and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens of Alaska. He did not veto last year's corps budget, even though Congress predictably rejected his proposed cuts. He passed up a chance to cancel a particularly egregious $108 million plan to protect flood-prone farmland in Missouri. And the administration has not pushed a Clinton administration proposal to end corps dredging on the almost bargeless Apalachicola River—even though Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida supports it.

              Still, because Bush is caricatured so often as a despoiler of nature, it only seems fair to point out that his underlings are moving the corps in a greener direction. Are the Bushies motivated by genuine concern for the environment? Or are they just trying to save some money?

              Who cares?
              “I’ve always stated, ‘I’m a Missouri Tiger,’” Anderson said March 13 after Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, adding, “I’m excited about what’s taking place here.”

              Asked then if he would talk to his players about the situation, he said, “They know me, and that’s where the trust comes in.

              Comment


              • #13
                Originally posted by dredbyrd+Sep 12 2005, 09:36 AM-->
                QUOTE(dredbyrd @ Sep 12 2005, 09:36 AM)

              • #14
                Originally posted by pgrote@Sep 12 2005, 08:56 AM
                Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the chief of the Corps, has said that in any event, more money would not have prevented the drowning of the city, since its levees were designed to protect against a Category 3 storm, and the levees that failed were already completed projects.




                More money would have meant upgrading or replacing the existing walls to protect against a higher level storm.....

                I guess that's why Carl Stock is a Lt. General and not a General.
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                • #15
                  Razzy ... I had a longer response ... but lost it.

                  Anyway, the basic fact that the wetlands in Louisiana are disappearing and the Mississippi can no longer add more land, kills them.

                  The city is still sinking..

                  The Everglades project is a 50/50 fed/state split. Louisiana had a chance to fund their programs the same way, but it appears they chose not to.

                  That was even when another program did little to help.

                  So, you asked if it the everglades was important that New Orleans. I guess I would answer that by saying that the Everglades project does more than provide hurricane protection, as it will provide water for southern florida and save species.

                  Comment

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