Statement of Senator Jon S. Corzine
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
June 18, 2002
Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding today’s hearing on the Army Corps’ water resource development programs.
In New Jersey, I have seen how the work of the Corps on projects such as beach replenishment and the New York-New Jersey harbor are critically important to the state. And I’ll be working with my colleagues on this committee to authorize several of those projects in this year’s Water Resources Development Act.
At the same time, I have seen cases like the Delaware dredging project, where the analysis that the Corps has used to support its projects is severely flawed.
So while I support the Corps, I believe that we need to take a hard look at reforms that may be needed. In particular, I am concerned about the process by which the Corps analyzes project costs and benefits. I say that because of my experience with the proposed $311 million Delaware River Deepening Project, which would involve deepening 108 miles of the Delaware River from the mouth of the river at the Delaware Bay north to the Ports of Camden and Philadelphia. In February 2001, I asked the General Accounting Office to take a look at the project especially the Corps’ cost-benefit and environmental analysis. The report, just released this month, confirmed our suspicion that the Corps’ economic analysis was flawed and “…does not provide a reliable basis for deciding whether to proceed with the project.” (GAO-02-604 Report p. 2)
This independent review was critical, and I think we ought to examine how we might systematically do independent review of the economics of large projects.
While I am open to many of the ideas put forth in the various reform proposals, such as increased public participation and increased agency accountability, there is one particular provision of the bill that troubles me—the cost-share flip on beach projects. Local governments simply can’t shoulder the cost share flip, and I don’t think they should have to.
In conclusion, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses, and working with my to move a WRDA bill this year.