Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

The Water Resources Development Act of 1992: Expanding the "Corps of Environmental Engineers"

June 1993

Citation: ELR 10379

Author: Benjamin H. Grumbles and Kenneth J. Kopocis

Editors' Summary: The Water Resources Development Act of 1992 (WRDA 92 or the Act), enacted on October 31, 1992, is an omnibus water projectauthorization and policy bill of the type traditionally used to authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps') civil works projects. However, WRDA 92 differs from its predecessors by going farther in fostering a "greener," more "environmental" Corps. It authorizes more projects directly related to environmental protection and restoration, and signals Congress' growing inclination to use the Corps as environmental engineers.

The authors review the background of the Act, focusing on the Corps' historical responsibilities, and analyze the Act's major provisions. They discuss the Act's project authorizations, including the first authorization of a major Corps project whose sole purpose is to improve the environment through ecosystem restoration, and they examine the ways in which the Act reforms current Corps programs and directs the Corps into addressing new subjects. They conclude that Congress is likely to increase its use of WRDAs as vehicles for environmental protection, by expanding the Corps' role and redefining its relationship with EPA. They speculate that Congress will also take advantage of the Corps' expertise in future amendments to the FWPCA and the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act. Finally, they advise interested observers to watch congressional developments on agency budgets, wetlands, watersheds, proposed Corps reorganization, and proposed EPA elevation to cabinet-level status, to see whether — or when — the Corps will become the "Corps of Environmental Engineers."

Mr. Grumbles is assistant minority counsel and Mr. Kopocis is assistant majority counsel for the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation. Both have held these positions since 1985. The opinions in this Article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation or any of its members. The authors would like to thank Ms. Dorothy E. Chepp for her assistance in preparing this Article.

You must be a News & Analysis subscriber to download the full article.

You are not logged in. To access this content: