Tucked in the massive stimulus bill passed by the House Appropriation Committee is a $4.5 billion appropriation for the Army Corps of Engineers. While the vast majority of the appropriation is for the construction of new water resource projects and for the backlog of maintenance of existing water resource projects, there is also a $25 million appropriation for the Corps of Engineers regulatory program. The Corps regulatory program is the cadre of bureaucrats responsible for processing permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act - in other words wetlands permits.
Presumably, the Corps is justifying the increase in their regulatory budget by claiming a backlog in processing permits. But if Congress were serious about creating jobs, a more effective approach would be for Congress to force the Corps to follow their own permitting regulations. Corps regulations specify that a permit is supposed to be processed within 60 days of receiving a completed application. Forcing the Corps to actually process the permits in the required 60 days would be a far more effective approach than pouring more money down a regulatory rat hole.