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Enviros push to kill new 1,200-foot locks

March 20, 2010

A coalition of environmental groups wants to kill new locks on the Upper Mississippi River System before they’re built.

The so-called Nicollet Island Coalition believes new 1,200-foot locks are a waste of money and that any funding for the projects be earmarked for operation and maintenance of the current Depression era locks and for environmental restoration along the river.  

The groups produced a 36-page report that’s heavy on photos of the river and a little light on facts.  

“For more than 100 years, structures meant to enhance navigation have severely degraded the environment both within and around the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers,” says Christine Favilla, Three Rivers Project Coordinator for the Sierra Club. “Now is the time to ramp up the restoration efforts of this valuable resource, not give in to fiscal insanity.”

“We’re calling on Congress to pull the plug on the new locks and to stop holding river restoration hostage to unneeded navigation spending,” says Glynnis Collins, Executive Director of Prairie Rivers Network. “President Obama basically eliminated funding for the new locks in his Fiscal Year 2011 budget, as did President Bush before him. Congress needs to make that decision permanent in the next Water Resources Development Act,”

Most of the groups that are calling for Congress to pull the plug on locks are big supporters of climate change policy.  They ought to recognize that barge transportation produces the fewest tons of CO2 emissions per ton of cargo moved.

Not all environmental groups oppose the locks.  

 We are proud to work with the American Land Conservancy to obtain funding next fiscal year for locks and restoration.

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