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Re: E-M:/ Fwd: GLIN==> Congress Advances WRDA Authority for Asian Carp Barriers and Great Lakes Programs (UNCLASSIFIED)

Senator Fiengold has issues with the WRDA bill in that it doesn't address the need for more accountability from the Corp. See his statement below.

snip: The Corps can exempt Continuing Authority Program projects, certain rehabilitation projects, and projects that it determines are not controversial and only require an Environmental Assessment rather than a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement.

Precisely what the COE  did sighting the dredge slurry pit in the floodplain of the Saginaw River next to homes and a wildgame preserve ( Crow Island) eating up acres of floodplain and farmed wetlands. NOE EIS just a drive by EA...............

Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold 
On Opposing the Water Resources Development Act Conference Report 
July 30, 2007 
“The version of the Water Resources Development Act I’ve seen does not do nearly enough to change the way the Corps of Engineers does business, and I won’t support it. After a decade of government and independent reports about problems with the Corps, and the tragic failures of New Orleans’ levees during Hurricane Katrina, the American people deserve meaningful reforms. Unfortunately, the conference report expected to be finalized as early as today includes only weak reforms. The Senate twice voted in support of strong reform language, but this conference report has been stripped of important safeguards to ensure accountability and prevent the Corps from manipulating the process. We have compromised enough over the years. We can no longer afford a system that favors wasteful projects over the needs of the American people.” 
Fact Sheet by U.S. Senator Russ Feingold 
On the Water Resources Development Act 
Senator Russ Feingold has announced his opposition to the Water Resources Development Act because of changes made to the bill’s independent review provision during negotiations between the House and the Senate. The Senate version of the bill included a strong provision authored by Feingold to help ensure future Corps projects do not waste taxpayer money or endanger public safety. This provision required review of Corps of Engineers project studies by an independent panel of experts for: projects estimated to cost more than $40 million; projects requested by a governor of an affected state; projects that the head of a federal agency has determined may have a significant adverse impact; or projects that the Secretary of the Army has found to be controversial. The Feingold provision also established an outside safety assurance review for critical flood damage reduction projects to better ensure public safety. 
Unfortunately, the independent review provision included in the conference report was significantly weakened in several respects: 
Under the conference report, the “independent” review is not independent. The review process is housed within the Corps rather than outside the agency as required by the Senate bill. The Corps’ Chief of Engineers is given significant authority to decide the timing of review, the projects to be reviewed, and whether to implement a review panel’s recommendations. 
Seven years after enactment, the conference report would terminate the requirement for projects to be peer reviewed. It is reasonable for Congress to continually evaluate how the program is working, but to presume there is not a long-term need for peer review and set a sunset date is irresponsible. Independent review should be permanently integrated into the Corps’ planning process. The burden should be on the Corps to demonstrate why it does not need a congressionally mandated review process, rather than on Congress to wage another battle to extend the requirement in seven years. 
The Senate’s provision established mandatory review when clear triggers are met. However, the conference report gives the Corps fairly broad discretion to decide what projects get reviewed. It expands the House’s loophole allowing the Corps to exempt projects that exceed the “mandatory” $45 million cost trigger. The Corps can exempt Continuing Authority Program projects, certain rehabilitation projects, and projects that it determines are not controversial and only require an Environmental Assessment rather than a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement. A project’s economic justification, engineering analysis, and formulation of project alternatives are critical elements that should be looked at for all major projects, not just those with significant environmental impacts. 
Though the conference report allows the Corps to exempt projects from review, it does not give the Corps equal authority to include projects. The bill includes restrictive language that prevents the Corps from reviewing studies that were initiated more than two years ago or that were initiated in the last two years but already have an “array of alternatives” identified, which occurs early in the process. The Senate language would have allowed the Corps to initiate a review for any project that does not have a draft feasibility report. 
The conference report eliminated a key provision in the Senate bill that ensures accountability. Specifically, the provision would have required that if a project ends up in court, the same weight is given to the panel and the Corps’ opinion if the Corps cannot provide a good explanation for why it ignored the panel’s recommendations. By dropping this accountability requirement, the conference report allows the Corps to ignore the panel’s recommendations, as the Corps is currently doing with its own internal review process. 
The Senate bill would have made a project review mandatory if requested by a federal agency with the authority to review Corps projects. Instead, the conference report gives the Corps the authority to reject the request, and requires the federal agency to appeal the decision to the Council on Environmental Quality. The Corps should be required to conduct the review made by the head of another agency that is charged with reviewing Corps projects or, at a minimum, to justify to CEQ why it wants to deny such a request. 
Mark N. Beorkrem 
Nicollet Island Coalition Coordinator 
National Corps Reform Network Steering Committee - Co Chair 
Member, Sierra Club National Rivers Committee 
Member, Sierra Club Corps Reform Task Force 
Member, Sierra Club Mississippi River Basin Ecoregion Task Force 
106 Stieren St. 
Farmersville, IL 62533-7858 
217-227-4143 home/office 
217-823-0063 cell 
email: mbeorkrem@hotmail.com 

-----Original Message-----
From: Alexander J. Sagady <ajs@sagady.com>
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Sent: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 12:24 pm
Subject: E-M:/ Fwd: GLIN==> Congress Advances WRDA Authority for Asian Carp Barriers and Great Lakes Programs (UNCLASSIFIED)

Enviro-Mich message from "Alexander J. Sagady" <ajs@sagady.com>

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>Subject: GLIN==> Congress Advances WRDA Authority for Asian Carp Barriers and 
Great Lakes Programs (UNCLASSIFIED)
>Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 10:13:36 -0500
>Thread-Topic: Congress Advances WRDA Authority for Asian Carp Barriers and 
Great Lakes Programs (UNCLASSIFIED)
>Thread-Index: AcfUToZ4d06YCrbLRB2KI8I6+XV7Qg==
>From: "Miller, Jan A LRDGL" <Jan.A.Miller@usace.army.mil>
>To: <glin-announce@great-lakes.net>
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>Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
>Caveats: NONE
>Members from the House and Senate met in Conference yesterday and agreed to 
compromise language for a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which provides 
new and amended authorities for the Corps of Engineers.  This is considered a 
major milestone, since there has not been a WRDA passed since 2000.  
>Among the authorities contained in the WRDA bill are several that apply to the 
Great Lakes:
><?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> 
>·      Asian Carp Barrier – provides the Corps authority to complete the 
permanent electrical barrier, convert the demonstration barrier into a permanent 
facility, and operate both at full federal cost.
>·      Great Lakes Remedial Action Plans – reauthorizes program for technical 
support to RAPs, including planning and design of sediment cleanup and habitat 
restoration projects.
>·      Great Lakes Fishery & Ecosystem Restoration – reauthorizes a $100 
million program for construction of habitat restoration projects.
>·      Great Lakes Tributary Model – reauthorizes a program for development of 
watershed models to assist state and local efforts to reduce soil erosion and 
non-point source pollution.
>·      Great Lakes Basin Program – amends existing authority for strategic 
plans and other basinwide studies.
>The full language of the Conference Report is not yet available online, but 
should be shortly. 
>The report must next be brought to the floor of the House and Senate for 
passage before being sent to the President.
>Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 
>Caveats: NONE

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