St. Louis Public Radio News
2:49 pm
Thu July 24, 2003

Continued Court Battle Over Missouri River

Omaha, Neb. – A federal judge in Nebraska Wednesday refused to modify her ruling that the Missouri River's levels must be high enough for barge traffic.

That's the ruling that the Corps of Engineers says is in conflict with another judge's ruling in Washington. The corps told Judge Gladys Kessler this week that the Nebraska ruling was the reason it was ignoring Kessler's order to lower water levels to protect endangered species.

Kessler then ruled the corps in contempt this week and threatened stiff fines ($500,000 a day) if the agency doesn't start lowering levels by Friday.

That prompted the agency to ask the Nebraska judge to help out, but Judge Laurie Smith Camp refused. For now, the corps is appealing the Nebraska ruling to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.