Washington, DC — The National Research Council of the National Academies of Science today issued a blistering report savaging the $70 million study written by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to justify building bigger new locks throughout the entire Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway system. In unmistakably blunt words, the National Academies of Science (NAS) found the Corps’ work lacked “credibility and value” as an aid to decision-making.
This highly negative report is the third negative review authored by the NAS of the Corps planning for the $2.5 billion project and joins a number of other critical reviews issued by academic, taxpayer and environmental groups.
The NAS report found that the Corps —
- Deliberately discounted non-construction alternatives to new locks. “The failure to fully consider nonstructural measures precludes any statement about the desirability of structural measures.”
- Used unreliable inflated forecasts of barge traffic. “There are no overwhelming regional or global trends that clearly portend a marked departure from a 20-year trend of steady U.S. grain export levels.” and
- Corrupted its economic models. The Corps’ principal model is “incapable of producing any credible estimate of a lower bound of the benefits of lock extensions. Economic feasibility for any of the navigation alternatives has therefore not been demonstrated.”
“Boiled down to lay terms, the National Academies of Science is saying that the Corps, after ten years of work and spending more than $70 million, succeeds in subtracting from the sum total of human knowledge,” stated PEER Executive director Jeff Ruch whose organization represents Corps economists who have repeatedly disclosed flaws in this study and in the agency planning process. “The agency’s civilian specialists have been subjected to the crudest intellectual bondage by Corps commanding officers to produce this massive work of economic fiction.”
The Navigation Feasibility Study for the Upper Mississippi River and the Illinois Waterway is now awaiting approval from the Chief of Engineers, Major General Carl A. Strock, who previously oversaw the planning for this project as the Director of Civil Works.
“Today’s National Academies of Science report is a searing indictment of Gen. Strock’s leadership,” Ruch concluded.