In 1986 the United States Congress designated the Upper Mississippi River System as both a “nationally significant ecosystem” and a “nationally significant commercial navigation system.” This ambivalence in river legislation results in Congress investing heavily in the engineering of a river while also declaring its desire to protect, in some way, the same river’s natural features. The conflicts inherent in the water resources development process have been made more intense by the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Congress frequently authorizes development projects and protection projects on the same river without acknowledging the conflict that results from this lack of coordination. By legislating on separate lines, Congress leaves to the agencies, interested citizens, and the courts the task of resolving the tension that Congress itself created. A considerable part of domestic environmental law is a search for the limits to the development authorizations found in the various Water Resource Development Acts. This article describes a case in which an attempt to balance river protection and river development is being played out on one 59-mile stretch of the Missouri River. The goal here is to explore several of the legal boundaries between water resources “development” and river protection and restoration.
John H. Davidson,
Multiple-Use Water Resources Development Versus Natural River Functions: Can the WSRA and WRDA Coexist on the Missouri River?,
83 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol83/iss2/5