We already knew the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had a bad case of tunnel vision. It turns out its sight is also impaired by rose-colored glasses.
Barge traffic on the Mississippi River is likely to grind to a halt in the next few weeks because of the corps' stubborn refusal to release more water from the Missouri River into the Mississippi. Governors and lawmakers are pleading with the corps to act, but the corps is protecting reservoirs and recreation in sparsely populated areas over a transportation corridor that moves billions of dollars worth of commodities annually.
Somehow the corps sees this mixed-up set of priorities as its legislative mandate.
Its latest tact is to tell politicians and the barge industry that it doesn't have to choose because the Mississippi River will remain open despite the falling water levels. It plans to move some underwater rock formations and dredge the channel, and that should be enough -- on top of a rain dance, sacrifices to Mother Nature and crossing their fingers.
If the river remains open to barge traffic, it will be despite the corps' inflexibility. If river traffic gets shut down ... well, we'll be able to see clearly where the blame rests.