Iowa hearing focuses on Corps’ Missouri River flood management

From left to right, Kanas Senator Moran, Iowa Senator Grassley, Iowa Senator Ernst and New York Senator Gillibrand.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers management of the 2019 Missouri River Basin flooding was the focus of a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee field hearing today in Glenwood, Iowa.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a member of the committee, presided over the hearing. She was joined by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

In her opening comments, Ernst said continued flooding on the Missouri is unacceptable and needs to be fixed. Gillibrand said climate change is making weather disasters more common and says the Corps needs more funding to deal with the increased challenges.

Grassley continued his criticism of the Corps’ “misguided decisions and misplaced priorities”. He said flood control “needs to be the Corps’ number one priority, period.”

Farmer Leo Ettleman of Percival, Iowa testified, saying the Corps has “deprioritized” flood control to protect fish and wildlife.

Major Scott Spellmon of the Corps pushed back, arguing that flood control is their top priority “during periods of significant runoff”. He said nothing could have prevented this spring’s flooding because of the overwhelming amount of water that came down the river from the so-called “bomb cyclone” in mid-March.

Also testifying was Missouri Farm Bureau president Blake Hurst. Brownfield spoke with Hurst at the conclusion of the hearing.

AUDIO: Blake Hurst

Among those in attendance at the hearing was farmer Michael Stenzel of Hamburg, Iowa. He visited with Brownfield prior to the start of the hearing.

AUDIO: Michael Stenzel

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