U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released an oversight report called "Washed out to Sea" that details how billions of federal dollars have been wasted on beach nourishment projects while critical infrastructure needs go unmet.
"Taxpayers know that Congress wastes money. Yet, many Americans may be surprised to learn that billions of taxpayer dollars have literally washed out to sea through questionable beach nourishment projects' while critical infrastructure needs have gone unmet. In the wake of major natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, and in the midst of our current financial difficulties, it's time for Congress to use a little more common sense in its management of taxpayer dollars," Dr. Coburn said.
While Congress continues to invest billions beach projects that continually wash out to sea, at least 985 levees within the Corps of Engineer's Levee Safety Program are still at significant risk of failure because of flooding.
This investigative report examines why federal funding of beach nourishment is a short-sighted and inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.
Specifically, this report finds that these costly beach projects:
can divert scarce financial and human resources away from more vital infrastructure needs;
are temporary and require perpetual upkeep;
encourage risky coastal construction which in turn necessitates more beach nourishment and hinders implementing permanent solutions to coastal erosion;
are primarily secured by Members of Congress on behalf of beach-front communities represented by influential lobbying firms;
primarily benefit local and wealthy coastal property owners and businesses;
often negatively impact the environment and certain species;
are linked to human health problems; and
can restrict private property rights.