March 7, 2008
Jefferson City, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon today strongly objected to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ stated intention to provide active support and assistance to the state of South Dakota in its efforts to convince Congress to change laws that govern the purposes of the Missouri River. Nixon sent a letter today to Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) John Paul Woodley, Jr., calling into question the Corps’ involvement as a violation of its policy against lobbying.
“South Dakota’s position on wanting to change the law is well known, but when the Corps steps in to help them convince Congress to do that, that is called lobbying,” Nixon said. “Any participation by the Corps to influence Congress on this question is not authorized by law, violates the Corps’ lobbying policy and is a serious misuse of taxpayer dollars.”
In addition, Nixon criticized a proposed plan by the Corps to revisit the 2004 Master Manual, which was developed after almost 15 years of study by the Corps to determine how best to fulfill the congressionally authorized purposes of the river and has been upheld by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The process of developing the 2004 Master Manual cost taxpayers approximately $35 million, and surely it is far too soon to undertake that process again,” Nixon said. “The Corps should not waste taxpayer dollars to undertake a study of an option unauthorized under existing law, particularly when doing so would largely duplicate the extensive – and expensive – Master Manual Review and Update.”
Nixon pointed out that the issues raised by the state of South Dakota are not new and that Congress is well aware of the ongoing debate, but has chosen to leave the authorized purposes of the river intact despite numerous opportunities to change them. The 8th Circuit has affirmed on three occasions that flood control and navigation are the dominant purposes under the law.
Nixon has been a leader in the fight to defend Missouri’s interests on the management of the Missouri River since becoming Attorney General in 1993. The Attorney General won decisions from the 8th Circuit in 2004, 2006 and 2008 that affirmed the management priorities of the river as being flood control and navigation.