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Matilija Dam & the WRDA bill

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  • Paul Jenkin
    While folks in Ventura County are happy to see the Matilija Dam project move forward in Washington, many are critical of the Water bill that is likely to be
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 9, 2007
      While folks in Ventura County are happy to see the Matilija Dam
      project move forward in Washington, many are critical of the Water
      bill that is likely to be vetoed by the president... here's why

      article from yesterday's Wall Street Journal on WRDA.

      Water Carriers
      October 8, 2007; Page A18

      Everyone in Congress has promised to discipline his spending and
      earmarking habits. Funny that Members are proving just how
      watered-down those promises are in a water projects bill headed to
      President Bush's

      The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a core mission: commercial
      navigation, flood and storm control, restoring some aquatic
      ecosystems. When Congress got around to authorizing the $4.9 billion
      in such civil
      works that the Corps identified, here is what happened: The Senate
      passed a bill that cost roughly $14 billion, and the House a
      different bill at $15 billion. Then they got together in conference
      and compromised -- at $23.2 billion.

      Congress's core mission was apparently not only to leave no
      pork-barrel project on the cutting-room floor, but to destroy the
      idea of a cutting room. Just about every Member gets his earmark(s).
      Thus the Water
      Resources Development Act contains more than 900 special-interest
      boondoggles like:

      * At least $1.8 billion to build seven unnecessary navigation locks
      on the Upper Mississippi River, a project embroiled for years by
      corruption and budget overruns.

      * Billions for cross-country "environmental infrastructure," which
      usually means building a marina or waterfront shopping center.

      * $105 million to Louisiana's Port of Iberia, which the Corps
      estimated to generate 30 cents for every $1 spent before Senator Mary
      Landrieu demanded a highly dubious recount.

      * A multimillion-dollar subsidyfest for wastewater treatment
      facilities, sewer projects, mine reclamation, beach maintenance and
      surface transport, none of which fall under the Corps' jurisdiction.

      Even all that wasn't enough. The conference committee "airdropped" 19
      earmarks that were not in the original House or Senate bills. Their
      appearance added $750 million to the tab, with $685 million of the new
      pork going to the Santa Ana River Mainstem (total cost: $1.8 billion
      and counting) in Southern California. The last-minute request was
      made by California Senator Barbara Boxer, who as chairman of the Environmental
      and Public Works Committee was responsible for crafting the
      legislation in the first place.

      This airdropping clearly violates the transparency provisions of the
      Democrats' recent ethics "reform." Majority Leader Harry Reid,
      however, ruled that an "and/or" clause meant that the rules applied
      only to appropriations, not "authorizations," so Ms. Boxer got her wish.

      All Corps of Engineers authorizations are tossed into the same tub.
      The Corps has a $38 billion project backlog, so those backed by the
      most politically powerful Members bob to the top. Congress twice rejected
      amendments to prioritize the most urgent works.

      Mr. Bush will probably veto this monstrosity, but there's little
      doubt he'll be overridden. Most Republicans seem content to go along;
      the conference report moved out of the House 381-40 and the Senate 81-12.
      They're selling out twice. Democrats included GOP pork to ensure an
      override, weakening the Administration for the fall budget fights.

      As for Democrats, they rode into the majority promising a less
      corrupt Congress. Already they're poised to blow right past the
      Republicans' pre-2006 spending abuses. When the Democrats campaign in
      2008 as the
      party of "fiscal discipline," taxpayers ought to pelt them with water balloons.

      Paul Jenkin
      Environmental Director
      Surfrider Foundation Ventura County Chapter
      Coordinator, Matilija Coalition
      (805) 648-4005 pjenkin@...

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