Ernst Keeps Pressure on Corps on Cedar Rapids Flood Mitigation Project Funding

General Semonite says BCR metrics do need to change.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) again pushed for a commitment from Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work to modify the current benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) metrics used by the Corps to determine which projects receive funding. The way the BCR is currently calculated puts Cedar Rapids—and other communities in rural states and regions—at a disadvantage.   

General Semonite agreed that the BCR metrics do need to be changed and that a “one-size fits all metric” does not work.

Additionally, Senator Ernst requested more information from the Corps on how it determines which projects receive funding under the “human safety” exception, which gives the Corps discretion to fund projects with low BCRs if it deems there is a “significant risk to human safety.” General Semonite stated that he would take a look at this decision-making process and if this exemption could be applied to the Cedar Rapids flood mitigation project.

Watch Senator Ernst’s questioning of Lieutenant General Semonite here or by clicking on the image below.

Senator Ernst highlighted that the lack of federal funding for the Cedar Rapids flood mitigation project is due to its low BCR, and cited a commitment in December by the nominee to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Mr. R.D. James, to modify the formula so that communities like Cedar Rapids have a better chance of receiving funding.