By Brad Walker, Rivers Director April 29, 2015
Introduction: Why river restoration needs watchdogging
What happens when the supposed “river guy” is actually anti-river?
River restoration is important for water quality and its effect on human health, flood prevention, the economic consequences of flooding on government budgets and individual people, as well as for habitat restoration, species protection, and human quality of life. River restoration is so important to the millions of us who live near a river, source our drinking water from a river, fish in rivers, or visit rivers, that we can’t blindly trust our elected representatives to restore our rivers, protect our health, and fight for a better quality of life for all. We have to actually pay attention to the words they say and the actions they take to ensure the government acts in the public interest.
In MCE’s role as watchdog, we have noticed a pattern of anti-environmental statements from Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer over many years. Something new and disturbing, however, is his description of himself as the “de facto river guy in Congress.” He did not restrict his statement to being the expert for the river segment within his district, or even the Missouri River. He implies that he is the Congressional river guy for all our rivers.
Let’s take a look at the statements of this “river guy” and see how well his comments reflect a knowledge of river ecosystems, cost-effective flood prevention methods, and how best to use the government resources to improve life for all. Below is a detailed rebuttal to the attacks Representative Luetkemeyer (and he is not alone in this) has made upon the limited river restoration actions that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) are pursuing through the Missouri River Recovery Program (MRRP), as well as some other related river issues. There is no shortage of issues, so I have selected nine positions he has taken to rebut, with pertinent portions highlighted.
[The italicized paragraphs within each position below are verbatim from pertinent documents with direct quotes contained within those documents in quotation. Our rebuttal is indented and identified as “Response”.]
1) River restoration projects are wasteful spending:
Congressman Luetkemeyer “is looking forward to continuing to” cut “wasteful spending on projects with no real benefits.” (Columbia Tribune 3-8-15)
“One can’t help but take notice of the significant disparity of funding for habitat restoration and land acquisition and funding dedicated to operations and maintenance,” Luetkemeyer said.… Read the rest