Sunday, January 10, 2016

Army Corps' Move May Thwart Ohio EPA, Federal Judge

Corps' political end run intended to dodge Ohio EPA and federal judge on dredging?

In the Cleveland Plain Dealer on January 7, 2016, James F. McCarty wrote (excerpts):

The dispute between the Port of Cleveland and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers heated up again this week after Army brass obtained a cut of  more than $3 million in funds budgeted for dredging the Cuyahoga River shipping channel.

Port of Cleveland President & CEO Wil Friedman wrote to Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman on Tuesday to express his dismay at the "troubling actions" of the Army Corps and to seek their assistance in recouping the money.

At the root of the dispute are the Army Corps' ongoing efforts to dump dredged sediment from the river channel directly into the open Lake Erie, rather than to continue its longstanding practice of storing the sediment in lakefront containment dikes. Port officials and the Ohio EPA contend the sediment is potentially toxic and unsuitable for open-lake disposal...

In the original federal budget, $9.54 million was earmarked for dredging Cleveland Harbor, Friedman said. But unknown to port officials or the Ohio congressional delegation, Army Corps brass advised a congressional Appropriations Committee to cut the budgeted money for dredging the harbor to $5.94 million -- a reduction of $3.6 million, he said.

(See Part 3: Murky Waters, this blog, 11-17-15.) 

UPDATE   Posted by Sam Allard on Scene & Heard, Jan 25, 2016:

Both Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman are now in "open war" with the USACE, the [Cleveland Plain Dealer or PD] said, and are demanding the agency use its own flexible account to cover costs for safe disposal of the sludge.  

Money is required, they say, because Congress allocated a lot less money to the USACE this year at the agency's request:  

The only reason Congress in December didn't allocate more money for the harbor's dredging, the senators said, is because the Corps quietly went to congressional appropriators and slyly asked for a lower amount — at least $2 million less than was needed and $3.6 million less than even the White House had sought for Cleveland Harbor dredging. Ohio lawmakers didn't notice the change until after the bill, a 2,200-page spending measure for 2016 that Congress rushed through at year's end, had passed.

By seeking and getting less money, Portman and Brown contend, the Corps could cry poor when time comes this year to do the work.  

In an editorial published Sunday, the PD laid into the Engineers for their sleazy, deceptive maneuvers, saying that with a reduced budget, they can now "shake down" the state…

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