Environmentalists and Bureaucrats Combine to Cheat Us

Environmentalists and Bureaucrats Combine to Cheat Us

© David Burton 2014

Police Escorts

     When there is a clash between people and nature, environmental extremists will always defend the environment at the expense (literal and figurative) of people. When the government, instead of the private sector, controls a project, we can almost always be assured that that the project will end up over-budget and late. Here in Massachusetts, this is particularly true. A classic example of these complaints is the Winthrop Beach Renourishment/Rumney Marsh Restoration Project which, as of this date, has taken more than 13 years from its initial conception and is still not finished. It's cost has grown from an initial estimate of less than $10 million to an actual cost of more than $30 million (as of now).

     In November of 2011 I wrote (Ref. 1): “The town of Winthrop in Massachusetts is basically a peninsula just east of Boston’s Logan International Airport. Its eastern shore is composed of a roughly 1-mile long beach that faces out into the Atlantic Ocean. Its beach is protected to some degree by the “Five Sisters” manmade breakwaters, that are located a few hundred yards offshore to reduce the effects of the regions famous ‘Nor’easters’. The protection afforded by these breakwaters are less than total and beach erosion occurs constantly, threatening parts of the town with storm-driven ocean water that washes in over the beach. A few decades ago, the beach was re-sanded with ocean bottom sand that was dredged and pumped onshore. Some 12 years ago, the need to once again re-sand the Winthrop beach became apparent and efforts were begun to obtain funding and permits to repeat the procedure.
     “The . . . effort to replenish the sand on Winthrop’s beach began in 2001 with a review under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). The MEPA review took more than five years [Emphasis mine], with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) proposing to take sand from an underwater, off-shore site. The proposal for the permit called for dredging up sand 8 miles offshore and pumping it or hauling it by barge to the shore because it would have taken years to truck the sand through the only two roads that provide access to the town and through the town's narrow residential streets.
     “By 2006, all state and local permits were in hand {federal funding was approved} and the project was ready to start. However, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Army Corps of Engineers stopped the project dead in its tracks, refusing to allow the DCR to take sand from the underwater, off-shore site, contending that the project would disturb the ocean bottom and a lobster habitat. So, in April of 2008, The US Army Corps of Engineers announced that it had denied the state a permit to dredge sand from the ocean bottom to restore the eroded shoreline, dashing the hopes of residents who have blamed erosion for flooding problems in the area. An appeal of that decision was denied in early 2010. So, after some 9 years, it was back to the drawing board. {Clearly, the well-being of a few lobsters was thought to be more important than that of the people and property of Winthrop!}
     “In a written statement, the North Atlantic Division commander of the Corps, said that the decision was made ‘due to public interest factors and the availability of less environmentally damaging alternatives.’ One may want to interpret this as caving in to the demands of tree-hugging environmentalists. While the alternatives might be {very questionably} environmentally less damaging, the costs would be higher, the impact upon the residents of Winthrop and surrounding communities more severe [Emphasis mine] and the subsequent delays could have {had} potentially deadly consequences in the event of a major storm.
      - - -
     “Winthrop Beach area residents have blamed the beach erosion for a string of flooding problems over the years. A one-year independent study from 2004 to 2005, commissioned by the state Division of Marine Fisheries, which opposed the project, concluded that the dredging would not have a permanent negative effect on sea life. Apparently such a conclusion is irrelevant to environmental zealots, their adherents and the bureaucrats that are involved. [Emphasis mine]
     “. . . {in} 2011, a new proposal {was put forth}. This new proposal {called} for trucking some 650,000 cubic feet of sand and gravel into Winthrop from an abandoned highway embankment some 4 or 5 miles outside the town. Trucking in this sand ‘was an option that the Department of Conservation and Recreation officials were hoping to avoid because of high costs, significant traffic impact to the two roads leading in and out of Winthrop, and because the sand material would not be as good a match for the beach as sand from the ocean floor.’ [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 2)
     “’That decision came nearly 12 years after state conservation officials started pursuing the dredging option, which they felt was the fastest and most inexpensive solution and would have had the least impact on communities.’ (Ref. 2)
     “Completion {was then} estimated for December 2013 . . . {As of September 2014, the project was not finished and the projected completion date had extended through the summer of 2015.} The state conservation department {had estimated that the trucking option would} cost $37 million, compared with the estimated $25.8 million for offshore dredging. Dump trucks {would} each carry 17 cubic yards of sand into Winthrop on one of the two only roads into/out of town between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. each weekday at a rate of 130-170 trips per day for approximately two years. Doing the math, we find that the 650,000 cubic yards of sand will take about 38,235 truckloads. Assuming 150 truckloads a day for 6 hours, this amounts to 1 truckload every 2-3 minutes over some fairly narrow roads and streets that were never intended to carry heavy traffic. As one resident of the Winthrop beach area said, ‘this is going to be disruptive and expensive.’(Ref. 2)
    - - -
     “’There {were} also . . . some concerns {expressed} by the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries for storm water runoff from the new sand into {some of the town’s} shellfish population.’ (Ref. 3)

     Some three years have now passed since I first wrote about the Winthrop Beach Renourishment/Rumney Marsh Restoration Project. Now, in 2014, each week we are witnessing about 75 convoys of trucks entering and leaving Winthrop each weekday. These convoys now typically consist of only 2 trucks and 1 police vehicle.[4]

     As of September 2014, the project is still one year away from projected completion. From personal observation, the loaded trucks carrying the sand into Winthrop do indeed arrive roughly at the rate of 1 truckload every 2-3 minutes. Empty trucks returning from Winthrop depart the town at the same rate. The project cost, which started at less than $10 million, grew to $25.8 million in 2006, then grew to $37 million by 2011. The actual final cost is yet to be determined.

     Part of the cost growth may be the result of the apparent extravagant use of state and local police to escort the sand trucks in and out of Winthrop, plus the cost of numerous police details along the truck route and at the truck route terminus. At the start of trucking in the spring of 2014, I noted one or two police cars escorting convoys of roughly 10 sand trucks in and out of Winthrop. I thought that scheduling trucks in convoys of 10 or more trucks to be prudent and efficient and the use of 1 or 2 police vehicles with such a convoy to be efficient. However, as the sand replenishment operation continued, the number of trucks in a convoy dwindled to 1 or 2, but the number of escorting police cars remained at 1or 2 – usually just 1. The number of police details along the trucking route remained unchanged. It was not uncommon to see 1 police car escorting 2 trucks, followed a minute or two later by another police car escorting another 2 trucks, and – frequently, one more police car another minute or two later escorting another pair of trucks.

     It would appear that the concept of cost containment had given way to the desire to milk the federal and state cash cows for all they were worth. It would be most interesting to determine just how much money has been going to the Winthrop, Revere and Saugus police departments and to the Massachusetts State Police for the use of their vehicle and to pay the salaries of the personnel involved. The need for police escorts for the sand trucks could be questioned since the trucks stop at all traffic lights and stop signs and maintain speeds well within the local speed limits. To my knowledge, other large trucks operating in this area do not need police escorts. A convoy of 10 trucks might need an escort, but 1 or 2 trucks do not. The “police details that lead {these} sand convoys {are currently estimated to} cost $1.8 million.” (Ref. 4)

     “The state defends the use of the police details because they say this really is a public safety issue and they say the details will help expedite the project because otherwise the trucks would be stuck in traffic all day long.
     “The Department of Conservation and Recreation say $2.6 million has been set aside for the police details. . .
      - - -
     “So yes, the project is important. But should the trucks involved be treated like a Presidential motorcade?” (Ref. 5)

     The “resident engineer of Field Construction Operations, explained that a police vehicle accompanies two trucks each time to ensure ‘truck safety, vehicle safety, pedestrian safety, everybody’s safety’ along the six-mile trip. Approximately 20 police cars from Revere, Saugus, Winthrop and the State Police are being used for this purpose.” (Ref. 6)

     What should have been a 2 to 5 year process and project has now been dragged out to more than 13 years.[4] Over that span of time the project cost has ballooned and “will cost the state at least $10 million more than expected {in 2011}.” (Ref. 4) The original plan to replenish the sand on the beach with sand from the ocean floor about 9 miles off the Winthrop coast was to cost between $7million and $10 million in 2006.[4] . The projected cost today (2014) is in excess of $30 million and has expanded to include environmental upgrades to Rumney Marsh in Saugus from where the sand is obtained.

     Even if the re-sanding project is completed in 2015 as currently projected, that will not be the end of the work associated with the project. Re-pavement of the road along Winthrop Beach will then commence and is not expected to be finished until 2017 – some 16 or 17 years after the start of the project.[4] Remember, the Bible tells us that it only took God 6 days to create the entire world.

     What is happening in Winthrop is symptomatic of what happens when environmental extremism runs unchecked and, typically, when local, state or the federal government manages public works projects. To an environmentalist, the following principles apply: the human race has no right to change any aspect of nature; all living creatures (except people) have priority over humans; any cost is acceptable that prevents a change to the natural environment; any delay is acceptable that prevents a change to the natural environment; the human race is a destroyer and polluter of the natural environment and should be allowed to exist only to the extent that it does not change the natural environment; the negative impact of environmental considerations upon people is irrelevant.

     For our environmental extremists, people have no rights - only animals and the environment do. The environmental police have a mission to restore the earth to the original condition in which it was created. Mankind only ruins everything by trying to make the world more livable. According to these environmentalists, humans have no right to try and change nature - the world around us must remain pristine or be returned to that pristine condition. The environmentalist mantra is: Damn the cost, the inconvenience to people, and all else as long as the environment is not disturbed nor changed. The sea bottom – yes; Lobsters – yes; People – no! Environmental concerns must be realistically balanced with the needs and objectives of people. It is said that God gave man dominion over nature, not vice-versa. Indeed, we are obligated to be stewards of the environment, but the needs of people must also be considered.

     Couple the impact of environmental extremism with that of government bureaucrats and administrators who have no incentive to contain costs or to adhere to meaningful schedules and the result is obvious. The more money spent on a project, the greater the job security of the people administering the project. Similarly, the longer the project extends, the more secure is the bureaucrat that he will have a well-paying job until it is time for him/her to retire with the generous pensions provided by government employment. Completing a project on-time, within-budget and that meets or exceeds all requirements makes for a profitable business in the private sector. But, these are not primary objectives for the non-profit government organization and its employee. Unless and until the objectives of governmental agencies and employees are realigned, the American taxpayer will continue to be cheated and the American citizen will be ill-served.

     If the Winthrop Beach Renourishment/Rumney Marsh Restoration Project was run by a for-profit business, one may be sure that someone would be looking at minimizing expenses (and maximizing profits). But this is a public project. Who cares what the costs are? There’s always more money to be picked out of the public’s pockets. On public projects, the government workers don’t care about cost – they only care about their jobs. The more money taken from the public coffers means more jobs, more job security and more raises.

     One more factor contributes to the interminable delays and exploding costs of public projects like the Winthrop Beach Renourishment/Rumney Marsh Restoration Project. That is our outdated and malfunctioning legal system that allows unlimited numbers of lawsuits to be filed which stretch the projects interminably and invariably greatly inflate their ultimate costs. This legal madness is costing America a fortune. Suits against our public projects inflict death by a thousand cuts. All too frequently, the objectives of these suits are not to right a wrong, but to delay, incur legal costs and to discourage the completion of the project. The legal fees, the delays, the time lost, the overloading of our courts, and cost increases due to the delays are incalculable.

     “How do we solve this problem? We need to change the laws. We need to cap liability claims to reasonable amounts. We need to make it harder to bring obviously trivial and foolish suits. We need to make it expensive for both the plaintiff{s} and the{ir} lawyer{s} to bring frivolous court cases.
     “Can this presently be done? Maybe not. The lawyers’ lobby and the presence of large numbers of lawyers in our legislatures make tort reform highly questionable. Citizens need to file referenda to change the laws of their states. Citizens need to let their legislators know that they want real reform or they will vote for new legislators. Maybe we need to put a law on the books that prohibits lawyers from becoming legislators." (Ref. 7)


  1. Government Gone Haywire, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu: Article 113; Gov’t_25, 11 November 2011.
  2. State has new plan to stem erosion, Kathleen Conti, The Boston Globe, Page NO1, 23 October 2011.
  3. Fresh Air Injected into Long-awaited Renourishment Beach Project, Seth Daniel, Winthrop Transcript, 6 October 2011.
  4. Shifting Sands, Steven A. Rosenberg, The Boston Globe, Pages NO1 and NO7, 27 July 2014.
  5. Police are Escorting Sand to Winthrop Beaches. Seriously., Roberto Scalese, boston.com, 16 June 2014.
  6. State: Saugus/Winthrop sand project ‘right on schedule’, Christopher D. Roberson, itemlive.com, 12 August 2014.
  7. Stop the liability tort madness, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu: Article 5; Whatever_02, 31 October 2005.


  26 September 2014 {Article 202; Undecided_36}    
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