Army Corps appropriations

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CHERYL GLASER: Today the Senate considers more than $10 billion in new projects for the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps is responsible for levees in New Orleans and for building flood control and water navigation projects all across the country. But a number of senators want to call in some outside pros. Marketplace's Scott Tong reports.


SCOTT TONG: The government picks projects for the Army Corps of Engineers the same way it picks new bridges and roads: Politicians decide.

It's called legislative earmarking, aka pork, critics say.

Tim Searchinger of the group Environment Defense says the problem is there's no outside panel to assess each army corps project's design and benefits.

TIM SEARCHINGER: One of the results of that is that it's very easy for members of Congress to pressure the Corps into twisting its analysis to justify unworthy projects. Or into having shortcuts that make the project easier to build but that aren't justified. And that situation is what led the corps to build inadequate levees around New Orleans.

The vote to set up independent review is expected to be close.

Opponents argue it just adds red tape to the process and they'll offer an alternative plan that lets the Army Corps pick its own reviewers.

In Washington, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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