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Waterways keep America moving

March 3, 2010

The March Leaders to Washington group will be requesting support for appropriations in the next fiscal year to begin funding the Navigation and Ecosystem Restoration Program — or NESP.  

 A Dear Colleague letter from Reps. Aaron Schock of Illinois and Russ Carnahan of Missouri is circulating on Capitol Hill in support of $15 million to begin lock improvements on the Mississippi River and $25 million for the Environmental Management Program.

Neither the President’s proposed budget nor the recently approved stimulus package contained funding for any new project starts on the Upper Mississippi River.   Congress overrode a presidential veto and authorized seven new, 1,200-foot locks on the Upper Mississippi.   Locks 20 through 25 on the Mississippi were each built in the 1930s.

Locks 25 and 22 are each considered “shovel ready.”

The Waterways Council recently produced a video calling attention to the environmental benefits of hauling grain, coal, building materials, and road salt on the river system.

A companion 30 second spot is also running in some media markets.

Barge interests recently concluded a study of how best to prioritize, manage, and pay for new locks on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.  The proposal calls for a revised formula for funding projects out of the Inland Waterway Trust Fund.   A 20-cent per gallon tax on towboat fuel pays for half of new projects.

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