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Public Statements

Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - Mississippi River

Congressman Steve Scalise today led a bipartisan letter signed by 39 Members of Congress urging President Obama to recognize the importance of the Mississippi River and the need for an appropriate maintenance dredging policy on the Mississippi River. The recent policy put in place by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) caused inadequate dredging of the river, resulting in harmful draft restrictions along the Lower Mississippi River last month.

"The Mississippi River system is vital to maintaining our country's export capacity and helps more than 30 states compete in international markets," Scalise said. "The draft restrictions put in place last month along the Lower Mississippi River caused unnecessary economic harm and schedule disruptions for companies throughout the country, and we can ill afford to allow the Corps to sit idly by while American commerce and jobs are jeopardized. As Commander in Chief, the President should recognize the importance of the Mississippi River and direct the Corps to move quickly to address this problem so that the river is maintained at a depth that allows companies throughout the country to quickly transport their products along the Mississippi River, and on to ports throughout the world."

This is the third letter led by Scalise since the beginning of the year regarding the Corps' dredging of the Mississippi river. At the end of January, the Louisiana delegation, led by Congressman Scalise, sent a letter to the President urging him to direct the Corps to quickly restore the deep draft navigation to its authorized dimensions. In February, Scalise led a letter to General Van Antwerp of the Corps' requesting a meeting with the Louisiana delegation to discuss the Corps' the maintenance status of the Mississippi River.

A copy of the most recent letter led by Scalise and signed by 39 Members of Congress follows below.

March 21, 2011

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As Representatives from states that rely on the Mississippi River to transport cargo to other states and to the international export market, we understand the need to adequately dredge and maintain the deep draft navigation river channel. While river conditions have improved, the dredging policy put in place by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and ensuing draft restrictions have had a negative impact on commerce and remain a serious concern. As river levels change over the next few months, draft restrictions will likely have to be re-imposed because the river is not being sufficiently dredged by the Corps.

The Mississippi River system, with its 12,000 miles of inland waterways, helps more than 30 states compete in the international export markets. Nearly two-thirds of our grain and seed oil products are exported through the river, and the total value of cargo exported can exceed $104 billion annually. But without a dependable Mississippi River channel for deep draft navigation, a wide range of goods and products will be placed at an immediate competitive disadvantage for participation in the nation's export markets due to increased shipping costs. Ports and marine transportation companies will lose business, and industries that rely on these companies to ship products will suffer. This reduction in maritime transportation capability and commercial activity will place further stress on our economy at a time when America is recovering from a recession and there is increased demand for agricultural, manufacturing, construction and other cargos.

Mr. President, in the State of Union address you restated your goals of doubling our exports by 2014 and making America the best place in the world to do business. We support these goals, but they can not be achieved without a properly dredged and maintained Mississippi River. The waterway is vital to our national economy and our international competitiveness, as well as to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who depend on it for their jobs.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter of importance to our nation.

Sincerely,

Rep. Steve Scalise
Rep. Jerry Costello
Rep. Rodney Alexander
Rep. Jeff Landry
Rep. John Fleming
Rep. Todd Akin
Rep. Marsha Blackburn
Rep. Steven Palazzo
Rep. Cedric Richmond
Rep. Gregg Harper
Rep. Steve Austria
Rep. Bill Johnson
Rep. Aaron Schock
Rep. Charles Boustany
Rep. Russ Carnahan
Rep. Steve Stivers
Rep. Tim Griffin
Rep. Bill Cassidy
Rep. Stephen Fincher
Rep. Steve Womack
Rep. Allen West
Rep. Alan Nunnelee
Rep. Sam Graves
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer
Rep. Eric Crawford
Rep. Adam Kinzinger
Rep. Leonard Boswell
Rep. Steve King
Rep. Vicky Hartzler
Rep. Billy Long
Rep. John Shimkus
Rep. Jesse Jackson
Rep. Bennie Thompson
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson
Rep. Mike Ross
Rep. Trent Franks
Rep. Dan Boren
Rep. William Clay
Rep. Tom Latham


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