Dam the Taxpayer? America has built few large dams since the 1970s for a good reason - they are as dead as disco. Even though Gloria Gaynor got a second chance at the billboard charts, recent big dam-building proposals have no good reason to survive. With the availability of newer, cheaper, and more sustainable methods of water and power generation, you've got to wonder why two Republican Congressmen are trying to pass legislation that would allow boondoggle dams to be built without congressional approval.
Two Republicans Caught in Corporate Welfare Scheme
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
The legacy of large dam construction in America has been mixed at best, marked by cost overruns, unsustainable water use, and havoc for local communities. Plus, with 8,575 dams across the country, all of the good spots are pretty much gone. So, it's no surprise that over the past several decades Congress has heavily scrutinized new dam proposals and relatively few have passed.
But, this is a problem for several lawmakers who want handouts from taxpayers -- politicians who would rather have the prestige of bringing home an ostentatious public works project than develop a more cost-efficient and sustainable way of slaking their district's thirst for cheap taxpayer-subsidized water.
New legislation was introduced last week to sneak big dams past the taxpayers and their elected representatives. Under the new rules, once Congress approves a feasibility study for California water projects, any project the Department of Interior deems feasible would receive automatic authorization to pass go and start collecting millions of dollars for construction. At that point, the only way to stop the project from construction would be to pass resolutions in both houses of Congress within 120 days. This is even better than landing on "free parking" in Monopoly!
If this corporate welfare bill passes, Congress will be turning over its responsibility as taxpayers' defenders by allowing any project worth studying an authorization to proceed without further consideration of its merits. The current system, which allows Congress to actually consider the results of a feasibility study before giving a project the green light, is much better. And it's not so arduous a process that good projects get tied up; more than 300 water projects of some kind are passed each congressional term.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), and vocally co-sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) among others, also attempts to push through several of the harebrained dam schemes that would gain easier passage under the new provisions. One such proposal for Temperance Flat would cost taxpayers an estimated $1.3 billion to put a new dam so close to an existing one it would only fill with water one out of every three years, when the reservoir downstream is full. Why would you ever build a dam that doesn't have enough water to work?
If Congress passes this bill, it will be neglecting its duty to protect taxpayers by paving the way for wasteful water projects that benefit a precious few. In such tight financial times, Congress should be giving more -- not less -- scrutiny to billion-dollar projects. It would be a dam shame if they pass the proposed legislation.
For more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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