Obama to Cancel $52 M from Army Corps' 2011 Budget

President Obama's budget for fiscal 2011 (FY11) includes $4.939 billion in gross discretionary funding for the civil works program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, offset in part by a proposal to cancel $52 million of prior year funding, according to an agency press release.

The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, said, "This year's civil works budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers supports the Administration's priorities of improving the nation's infrastructure and revitalizing the economy.

"The budget funds the planning, design, construction, and the operation and maintenance of projects, and focuses on the Corps' three main civil works mission areas: commercial navigation, flood and coastal storm damage reduction, and aquatic ecosystem restoration," Darcy continued.

The Army Civil Works program additionally contributes to the protection of the nation's waters and wetlands; the restoration of sites contaminated as a result of the nation's early atomic weapons development program; and emergency preparedness and training to respond to natural disasters.

The new federal funding in the civil works budget consists of $4.051 billion from the general fund, $764.4 million from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, $82.3 million from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, and $41 million from Special Recreation User Fees.

The FY11 funding will be distributed among the appropriation accounts as follows:

  • $2.361 billion for operation and maintenance
  • $1.690 billion for construction
  • $240 million for Mississippi River and Tributaries
  • $193 million for the regulatory program
  • $185 million for expenses
  • $130 million for the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program
  • $104 million for investigations
  • $30 million for flood control and coastal emergencies, and
  • $6 million for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

Non-federal partners are expected to make approximately $400 million in cost-sharing contributions to the Rivers and Harbors Contributed Funds. Additionally, $16 million in Federal Permanent Appropriations will be available to the Corps in FY11, and about $83 million will be available from the Federal Coastal Wetlands Restoration Trust Fund for the work of the interagency task force led by the Corps.

The operation and maintenance (O&M) program is funded at $2.515 billion, including $154 million in the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) account. The budget emphasizes performance of existing projects by focusing on the maintenance of key commercial navigation, flood and storm damage reduction, and other facilities. Among navigation projects, the O&M program gives priority to harbors and waterway segments that support high volumes of commercial traffic. The budget also funds harbors that support significant commercial fishing, subsistence, or public transportation benefits.

The O&M program also includes $15 million for the National Levee Inventory Program for ongoing development of the national levee database. Three million dollars is also provided for the Coastal Data Information Program and $10 million for Global Change Sustainability.

The total construction program is $1.775 billion, including $85 million in the MR&T account. The construction program uses objective, performance-based guidelines to guide the allocation of funding towards the highest performing economic and environmental construction projects. Flood and storm damage reduction, commercial navigation, aquatic ecosystem restoration, and hydropower projects are ranked within categories as projects that provide dam safety assurance, seepage control, or static instability corrections; or, significant reduction of risk to human safety; or, environmental mitigation; and high performance based on benefit-to-cost ratios (BCRs). The budget funds 95 construction projects, consisting of 10 dam safety assurance, seepage control, and static instability correction projects; 20 projects justified on the basis of life-saving benefits; six project completions; two new starts; and 57 other continuing projects.

By program area, the 95 funded construction projects comprise 49 flood and storm damage reduction projects (two budgeted for completion), 25 commercial navigation projects (three budgeted for completion), 17 aquatic ecosystem restoration projects (including five projects related to biological opinions), and four hydropower replacement projects (one budgeted for completion). Among the construction work funded are the South Florida ecosystem restoration program, which includes the Everglades ($180 million); the Columbia River Fish Mitigation, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho ($138 million); Olmsted Locks and Dam, Illinois and Kentucky ($136 million); Wolf Creek Dam, Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, seepage control ($134 million); and Herbert Hoover Dike, Florida, seepage control ($105 million). The program includes two high priority new construction starts: the Louisiana Coastal Area program ($19 million, aquatic ecosystem restoration) and Onion Creek, Lower Colorado River Basin, Texas ($10 million, non-structural flood damage reduction).

The budget includes funding for both construction of projects to reduce storm damage along the coast and periodic renourishment of such projects. The program supports nine such projects, of which two are initial construction and seven are periodic renourishment.

The regulatory program is funded at $193 million. With these funds, the Corps will continue to protect the nation's waters and wetlands, improve compliance with and enforcement of wetlands regulations, and improve permitting processes.

The investigations budget includes funding to support the Water Resources Priorities Study ─ a high-priority evaluation of the nation's vulnerability to flooding ─ and the administration's ongoing efforts to revise the more than 25-year old water resources principles and guidelines.

Emergency management is provided $30 million in the flood control and coastal emergencies account to pay for salaries and related expenses for preparedness for and training to respond to floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. The emergency management program also includes $6.8 million for the National Emergency Preparedness Program and $6.5 million for facility protection and security, both funded in the O&M account.

Recreation activities are provided a total of $280 million from the O&M and MR&T accounts.

The budget proposes to replace the current excise tax on diesel fuel for the inland waterways with a new funding mechanism that will raise the revenue needed to meet the authorized non-federal cost-share of inland waterways capital investments in a way that is more efficient and more equitable than the fuel tax. The proposal would preserve the landmark cost-sharing reform established by Congress in 1986, while supporting inland waterways construction, expansion, replacement, and rehabilitation work.

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