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Mississippi River Infrastructure Discussed at Hearing

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Date: 07/08/04

MISSISSIPPI RIVER INFRASTRUCTURE DISCUSSED AT HEARING

The Mississippi River Caucus (MRC) held a hearing today to discuss infrastructure challenges along the Mississippi River. U.S Representative Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) is co-chairman of the caucus. Hulshof used the hearing as an opportunity to unveil legislation that will provide funding for both lock modernization and ecosystem restoration.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - - The Mississippi River Caucus (MRC) held a hearing today to discuss infrastructure challenges along the Mississippi River. U.S Representative Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) is co-chairman of the caucus. Hulshof used the hearing as an opportunity to unveil legislation that will provide funding for both lock modernization and ecosystem restoration.

"The time to begin making improvements to the infrastructure of the Mississippi River is now," said Hulshof. "When you consider the economic and environmental benefits of river transportation, it becomes abundantly clear that this is the right thing to do."

The hearing focused on the Corps of Engineers' Preferred Alternative produced as part of the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway System Navigation Feasibility Study.

"We have heard from all sides, working towards an ever-elusive consensus on the future of the Upper River Basin," Hulshof stated in opening remarks. "We are presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve our environment and our economy with a balanced, measured and prudent approach."

Hulshof's legislation would do the following:

Authorize $830 million (with 50% match from Inland Waterways Trust Fund) for lock modernization and appropriate mitigation
Authorize $24 million (with 50% match from IWTF) for small-scale navigation improvements
Authorize $1.46 billion for ecosystem restoration throughout the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River Basin

Missouri Senator Kit Bond has filed similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.

"If our farmers are to be competitive in world markets, the infrastructure of our waterways must be improved - soon," said Hulshof.

Composed of all Members of Congress with districts bordering the Mississippi River, the MRC was created to highlight the challenges facing the river and to spur action on those challenges.

Witnesses at today's hearing included representatives from the Missouri Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, Carpenters' District Council of Greater St. Louis, and the National Audubon Society. It was the Caucus' second hearing of 2004.

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