2000 Scorecard Vote
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has long been criticized for building wasteful and environmentally damaging dams and levees, operating dredging projects, and carrying out other "pork barrel" water resources projects. Although conservationists and taxpayer and civic organizations have been able to secure important reforms in the administration of Corps projects, recent years have witnessed a disturbing increase in the number of unnecessary projects pursued by the Corps.
In the spring of 2000, two veteran Corps economists charged that high-level agency officials pressured them to alter their analyses in order to justify a $1.2 billion expansion of locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers. At the same time, a Washington Post series revealed that top Corps officials had secret plans to "grow" the agency budget by 50% over five years. These revelations have increased public concern over the reliability of Corps feasibility studies supporting project proposals.
One of the most heavily criticized Corps proposals in recent years is a project to deepen 106 miles of the Delaware River for navigation. The project would dredge 33 million cubic yards of river-bottom sediment, some of it contaminated with mercury, lead, and PCBs. Conservationists, taxpayer organizations, and the state of Delaware have raised numerous concerns about the potential environmental impacts of this project on shorelines, aquifers, and marine life. The project also carries a high price tag: $311 million. The Corps claims the area surrounding the dredged channel will experience significant economic benefits. In fact, 80 percent of the projected benefits will accrue to only six oil facilities, five of which have stated they do not intend to deepen their access channels and will therefore not benefit.
During House debate on H.R. 4733, the Fiscal Year 2001 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill, Representatives Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Wayne Gilchrest, (R-MD) and Mark Sanford (R-SC) offered an amendment to cut funding for the Delaware River project. On June 27, 2000, the House rejected the amendment 176–249 (House roll call vote 338). YES is the pro-environment vote. The House and Senate passed this bill and the Energy and Water conference report with funding for the Delaware River dredging project intact. President Clinton subsequently vetoed the Energy and Water bill over a rider restricting new water management rules for the upper Missouri River (Senate vote 7). At the time this publication went to press, the House had voted to override the President's veto and the Senate leadership, lacking the necessary votes for a veto override, agreed to drop the rider from the bill.