Iowa Public Television


Missouri River Flap Drags On

posted on July 25, 2003

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.

Many analysts in recent weeks have said there are indications of economic recovery, but not much hard evidence. That may have changed this week.

Government numbers all point up, starting with Friday's report showing demand for durable goods rising to its highest level in six months. New home sales shot up to record levels in June. And the index of leading indicators rose for the third straight month, suggesting a stronger economy in the second half of 2003.

Even so, the nature of economic recovery is sporadic, and often subject to unforeseen influences. Just ask the users of the Missouri River, who are witnessing a confusing set of judicial rulings on the busy waterway.


Missouri River Flap Drags On

A federal judge in Nebraska ruled against the Army Corps of Engineers this week, saying she would not modify a ruling issued last year governing water levels in the Missouri River.

The Corps is caught between conflicting orders issued by two federal judges. The judge in Nebraska, siding with states located downriver, ordered the Corps to increase water flow on the Missouri to accommodate barge shipping. But a judge in Washington, D.C. has sided with the states located upriver, and ordered water flow reduced to benefit fish and wildlife. After the Corps hesitated to comply, that same judge issued a contempt citation of a half-million dollars a day beginning Friday.

In question is the Endangered Species Act and whether it takes precedence over barge shipping, flood control and other uses of the river. Conservation groups and barge and farming interests are at odds over the issue.


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