No Federal Meddling In Local Politics

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil districts needs to be relieved of the contentious duty of being involved in the chain of federal agencies who issue permits involving land use. Also, in this chain, are the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and other federal organizations.  There should only be one agency involved in land use permitting such as the EPA, which is being controlled by both a U.S. President’s Cabinet member, Mr. Zinke, and the watchful eye of our U.S. Congress.  It is absolutely ridiculous, unfair and wrong for the U.S. Federal government to engage in sandbagging private enterprise on land use permitting issues.

When a businessman plans to develop his property and overcomes an environmental issue, another federal agency pops up with another similar environmental issue to be overcome. This unethical conduct of one agency after another seeks to destroy business owners’ projects. Our Federal laws need to be revised to prevent “gangbanging” of free enterprise.

On January 21, 2017 and October 21, 2017, I wrote two letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, stating the involvement of the Corps should be limited to providing appropriate design as well as building projects funded by Congress and local partnerships that would enhance local enterprise.

January 21, 2017

Col. Pete Helminger
Commander of the South Pacific Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1455 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-1398

Dear Pete,

I am writing directly to you as one engineer to another. Concerning the Rosemont Mine in Southern Arizona, it is totally wrong to deny Hudbay Mining Company a permit to develop their property. There are two outstanding reasons that it is wrongful to prevent the mining of this ore body for nine years.

First, the politically induced overreach by government to protect remote small dry washes, by misinterpreting the Federal Clean Water Act is wrong. Second, and more importantly, is the practice of delay and prohibiting of mining without stating how the alleged environmental hazard can be overcome by design.  These two actions are an affront to our constitutional core values to ensure for a freedom of enterprise and the protection of privately owned property.

The primary function of professional engineering practice is to provide safe design to overcome environmental and physical hazards that may arise.  The Los Angeles District failed to define how the mine could be developed in compliance with the Clean Water Act and other reasonable requirements.

In the mid 1950’s, I had the privilege of working for the Portland District Corps of Engineers when they were building the Dalles Dam on the Columbia River, and two high head earth fill dams (Cougar and Hills Creek) on the upper Willamette River.  As a young engineer, I was greatly impressed by the Districts engrained professional duty to ensure for safe design so the project could move forward. Their design ethic was that no project would be stopped because of inherent hazardous conditions or circumstances as available applied engineering would eliminate both environmental and physical hazards.  It was Col. Jackson Graham who later, as a retired General, was the construction manager of the first Washington D.C. subway system, encouraged me to develop design criteria for tractor rollover structure, which were written and is now known as ROPS. This was ten years before the S.A.E Standards and OSHA requirements required ROPS.

During my childhood, my father, who was personally retained as an engineer by Col. Gothals in the building of the Panama Canal, a world wonder waterway from ocean to ocean, would tell me the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers design can-do ethic, which moved this project forward even with very primitive construction equipment.

It appears to me that our can-do design ethic has been compromised by “stop the project” philosophy of politically motivated environmental activists and we as engineers, should not be influenced by this economy-killer. We need to excel in doing what we know how to do best: develop design solutions. Our engineering professionals need to reject political pressures that are not in the best interest of the public.  At the age of nearly 94, I have enjoyed a wonderful career in engineering by knowing it is not enough to stop a project because of hazardous conditions or circumstances. Our engineering profession is all about eliminating hazards by design.


David V. MacCollum


October 21, 2017

Ms. Kathleen A. Tucker
Department of the Army
Los Angeles District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Regulatory Division
3636 N. Central Avenue, Suite 900
Phoenix, Arizona 85012-1939

Dear Ms. Tucker,

A water adequacy permit should be immediately granted to the Village of Vigneto real estate development in Benson, Arizona. In my opinion, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should not be soliciting public comments to evaluate the impact of endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effect and other public interest factors involving this development.  This politically induced meddling by the federal government is in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution in Article V of the Bill of Rights: “….nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”  When a real estate development project is prohibited for environmental reasons, the land owner receives no compensation for his property. These environmental land restrictions are nothing more than stealing the land owners property.

The alleged speculation that the developer will create irreversible damage to the water resources, endanger species and the environment is an outright lie.  To confiscate private property, thus making it worthless based on alleged environmental harm is criminal. Common sense tells us to protect our water resources, and the developer has included protective measures in the developments master plan. It is un-American to say no to human land use, when endangered species can be relocated.

The opponents of this and other projects have a total disregard for owners land rights and the economic development of Cochise Country and Southern Arizona. They are a thoughtless and selfish lot who use federal funding to instigate lawsuits to rob our communities of prosperity. Further, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil districts are best known for their outstanding ability, talent, engineering and skill to design and build huge civil projects for harbors, waterways and electric power generation. Congress needs to reassign the contentious regulatory environmental processes to the EPA.

I am a retired consulting engineer, and was a young engineer employed by the Portland District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950’s,  During this time period, the Portland District was building the Dalles Dam on the Columbia River to improve navigation and generate electric power.  At the same time, they were building two flood control dams on the upper Willamette River watershed at Cougar and Hills Creek. I have always marveled at what the Corps of Engineers does best: To design, build and operate wondrous public projects that generate our national wealth. The last thing the Corps needs to do is to lose their good reputation and become a victim of being a regulatory agency. This is never completely right in everyone’s opinion.  The Corps of Engineers needs to stick to what they do best – engineering, and not be involved in local politics as a permitting agency.


David V. MacCollum

David V. MacCollum

There are better things for the Corps of Engineers to do, which would include redesigning and rebuilding our failing infrastructure in order to make America Great Again.

For years, the Corps of Engineers have built along with partnerships, flood control dykes and harbors for local commercial and recreational use that have been a boom for local communities. This should be the true role of the Corps, not the dirty work for corrupt anti-enterprise, radical left wing politicians and self-proclaimed environmentalists. To Make America Great Again, we need to stop Federal meddling in local politics!