09. March 2006 · Comments Off on The Incredible Shrinking Rain Forest · Categories: Ain't That America?, Politics

Do you recall the “rain forest” in Iowa from last year’s pork-laden transportation bill? Well, it seems as though all is not paradise with that project:

Yet despite the high profile of the project and Sen. Grassley’s generous boost, the Environmental Project has not raised a dime in private financial backing, at least none that has been announced publicly. Moreover, the management of the project has been widely criticized for missing numerous deadlines, switching architects in midstream and strong-arming the local government in Coralville over land-use and municipal-financing issues.

Meanwhile, the burn rate has been considerable. According to Department of Energy records, the Environmental Project has drawn down $3,735,558 in federal funds, as well as, according to Environmental Project Director David Oman (a former AT&T executive and one-time Republican gubernatorial candidate who earns a salary of $210,000), the entire $10 million donation by Mr. Townsend.

The growing perception in the state that the project was, if not a boondoggle, then a money pit, led Sen. Grassley to pull the plug on federal funds in November last year, passing legislation that froze further outlays until the Environmental Project raised $50 million in matching funds. If it fails to do so by December 2007, the grant will be withdrawn.

A very interesting article. But one caveat: author Michael Judge claims the funding for Alaska’s “Bridge[s] to Nowhere” has been terminated. It is my understanding that Stevens terminated the specific earmarks, but was able to get the same funding transfered to a general grant for Alaska’s transportation.

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