U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, (KY-01), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, today blasted the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for refusing to provide answers to Whitfield's inquiries on the Corps' rationale behind their plan to prohibit recreational boating and fishing on the tailwaters of Cumberland River dams. Last week, Whitfield asked the Corps to provide the documentation that was used by the Corps to reinterpret a policy written in 1996 that allowed access for fishing in these waters.
"For whatever reason, the Corps has determined that they need to take away our right to fish our waters with zero explanation behind their rationale," stated Whitfield. "The Corps refusal to provide any answers, or to allow any sort of public input for that matter, is proof that they are content in simply circumventing the democratic process and taking away the voice of Kentuckians."
On April 1, Whitfield sent a letter to the Nashville District of the Corps asking for supporting documentation that led to their decision to install permanent blockades along Cumberland River dams. In a response dated Monday, April 9, 2013, Lieutenant Colonel James DeLapp of the Nashville district provided an interim response stating that such information was unavailable.
"Unfortunately, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be unable to comply with your request for information by April 5, 2013," stated DeLapp in his correspondence to Whitfield. "Due to the scope and volume of the material requested, the Nashville District must apply significant resourced to collect and catalog the material as requested. I estimate that it could take as long as six months and several hundred hours of manpower to search District wide for all of the material requested."
Whitfield questioned the readiness of such documentation given the Corps' recent decision to install the permanent barricades.
"Certainly, if the Corps is making such a big decision to take away fishing for the people of the Commonwealth, they would have based it on some sort of study or some sort of data, so it is curious that they are saying it won't be available for half a year. Of course, maybe they didn't properly make this determination, which is why they are working so hard to put up these permanent barricades as fast as they possibly can despite the public outcry," concluded Whitfield.