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Mississippi River Concerns Strengthen

Low water levels on the river prompt emergency status request

Published on: Nov 28, 2012

Stakeholders in shipping and commerce on Tuesday asked President Barack Obama and representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to declare a state of emergency on the middle Mississippi due to low water levels that could halt barge traffic.

In the letter, 18 groups, including the Waterways Council, the Fertilizer Institute and the American Farm Bureau Federation, asked President Obama to direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to address a two-fold problem: expedite the removal of rock which may impede traffic near Grand Tower and Thebes, Ill., and increase flows from the Missouri River.

The Corps began the seasonal process of reducing river flows last week despite much concern among ag and waterways groups, who say a closure on the Mississippi River could come at a high cost.

Low water levels on the river prompt emergency status request
Low water levels on the river prompt emergency status request

"The Mississippi River is a critical national transportation artery, on which hundreds of millions of tons of essential commodities are shipped, such as corn, grain and oilseeds, coal, petroleum, chemicals, agricultural inputs, steel, scrap materials transported for recycling, and other products," the groups wrote.

"Substantial curtailment of navigation will effectively sever the country’s inland waterway superhighway, imperil the shipment of critical cargo for domestic consumption and for export, threaten manufacturing industries and power generation and risk thousands of related jobs in the Midwest."

Though the seasonal flow reduction is typically not a problem, continued drought has exacerbated already low water levels, and has created urgency to remove the rock formations in question.

Though the Corps says it has finalized plans to remove the rock, no work has been completed. The groups' letter notes that rock removal will not happen "soon enough to avert severe impact to navigation."

Governors of Missouri, Illinois and Iowa, along with 15 U.S. Senators and 62 U.S. Representatives have also requested action to keep the river open.

Find the letter and complete list of signatories here.

Add Comment
  1. Anonymous says:

    yes when it's what you want to hell with everybody else

  2. Anonymous says:

    I support actions to stop the Army Corps from stopping commerce on the Mississippi river and other river system by using the Missouri River Master Manual a document approved by Congress only for the Missouri river . Noting: The U.S. Constitution reserves for the United States “Congress” the exclusive power to (regulate commerce) with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." See (Article I, § 8). We all have a constitutional right to open and to exercise that right to (commerce thus navigation). Noting: Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824). Where does the USACE have the U.S. Constitutional to implement an initiative in a manner that would abandon “navigation” thus “commerce” on any river system or here by using the control of the Missouri River Master Manual for the Missouri river to stop commerce thus navigation on other river systems and ports including and affecting the Mississippi river if only… Congress has the power to (regulate commerce) under the U.S. Constitution. See (Article I, § 8)? This extraordinary action by the USACE if not stopped by Congress or the courts exceeded the Army Corps’ authority and openly subverts the will and intent of the people and their rights under the U.S. Constitution.