Kentucky U.S. Senators square off with Army Corps of Engineers over Cumberland River Dams

04/15/2013 04:01 PM

Top Kentucky and Tennessee officials rallied over the weekend to urge the Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District to halt plans to erect barricades to 10 dams along the Cumberland River because of hazardous conditions near the dam.

Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell joined up with Republican U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville and Tennessee Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander push back against the decision, which would prevent boaters from getting near the dams.

The Army Corps of Engineers want to restrict access near the 10 dams along the Cumberland River because of powerful currents that can capsize boats and drown fisherman. Since 2009, three deaths and ten near deaths have been reported at the dams, according to the Corps.

But the members of the federal delegation say the issue has more to do with the division of power between the state and the federal government. And McConnell called it an example of an out-of-control “nanny state.”

“They’re trying to tell us what we can do. Where we can do it. How often we can do it. As if they’re smarter than all the rest of us,” McConnell said.

Paul echoed McConnell’s statements, saying it’s more of an issue of how out of touch Washington is with Kentucky.

“It’s not that the federal government is inherently stupid. Although it’s a debatable question. It’s that they’re just too far away,” Paul said. “That’s why we wanted a division of government.”

Whitfield filed the Freedom to Fish Act in the House in February as a measure to stop the Corps from erecting the barricades. The group said they would do everything in their power to allow fisherman to boat near the dams.

Video produced by Chris Bratton

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or


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