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Groups Lend Support to House Waterways Bill

Farm Bureau, Waterways Council announce support for bill language

Published on: Sep 16, 2013

The Waterways Council and American Farm Bureau late last week announced support for the recently released draft language of the House's Water Resources Reform & Development Act.

House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee members revealed the bill text Sept. 12. They have scheduled markup for Sept. 19.

"Bipartisan WRRDA legislation is vitally needed for the economic well-being of our nation," said Michael Toohey, Waterways Council president. "We have waited six long years for the opportunity to address reforms necessary to achieve modernization of our inland waterways transportation system."

The Senate has already passed its version of waterway reform legislation, which is intended to redistribute funds for waterway infrastructure improvement and improve shipping on inland waterways.

Farm Bureau, Waterways Council announce support for bill language
Farm Bureau, Waterways Council announce support for bill language

Congress had passed similar legislation every two years to provide clear direction to the Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers, but no bill has been signed into law since 2007.

Reviews of the bill text were generally positive, though WCI's Toohey said the bill could be improved with the addition of the WAVE 4 act, also known as H.R. 1149. Toohey said the provision would add an industry-supported increased user fee into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which would allow reinvestment in waterways infrastructure.

WCI explained that 57% of the nation's locks and dams have exceeded their life expectancy, while funding for their maintenance has remained flat or decreased.

"Inland waterways operators, along with stakeholders from the agriculture, labor, business and manufacturing sectors, depend upon a reliable and efficient waterways system to transport their goods to domestic and international marketplaces in the most cost-competitive, fuel-efficient, environmentally sound way," WCI said.

That statement was backed up by American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman, who said 41 states, including all states east of the Mississippi River and 16 state capitals are served by commercially navigable waterways. He added that more than 60% of America's grain exports and many other important commodities such as fuel, coal and agricultural inputs also move through the inland waterway system.

"Due to this importance, Farm Bureau policy explicitly supports the maintenance and improvement of our transportation infrastructure including the lock and dam system and other vital waterway infrastructure," Stallman said.

Toohey agreed. "The country needs a robust and vital water transportation system to move commerce safely and efficiently and keep pace with future demand," he noted. "We applaud the bipartisan leadership of the House Transportation Committee for this important step forward."

View bill text here.

Story Tags: Farm Bureau

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  1. TxTumbleweed says:

    Why do you think our inland waterway systems have been allowed to degrade to this point? Could it be a move to boost the fortunes of this regimes crony capitalist buddies? Who bought CSX Rail a couple of years ago? His initials are WB, and he hails from NE. Handing more control to the Federal government will only result in more cronyism of this type. I no longer trust Farm Bureau to represent agriculture's interest.. Read the fine print and understand the complete ramifications of any new inland water-way bill, because there are shocking restrictions on farming in "watershed" regions, far upstream from major waterways. . What happened to American Ag in the Chesapeake Bay region? After enviro-wackos strangled out ag there, scientific research found all their witnesses and studies claims were totally unfounded, politically motivated propaganda. The Left is methodically killing American Ag region by region.. They pulled it off in California's Central Valley, they pulled it off in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and next on the agenda are the Mississippi River watershed, and the irrigated Great Plains. Al Gore made the speech opining that the U.S. would be better served by having our food produced in third world backwaters. If the Leftist Utopian Agrarian advocates have their way, flyover America will become a giant National Park.