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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CRITZ. Thank you, Mr. Doyle, Mr. Visclosky, and Chairman, for yielding.

I would like to add my voice to Mr. Doyle's on the issue of the aging state of our Nation's waterways and the vast shortfalls and funding on urgently needed projects. I believe the chairman has done his best, given if available funds in the trust fund and would like to work with the gentleman from New Jersey to find a long-term solution to this issue.

Consisting of over 230 lock chambers, our inland waterways move hundreds of millions of tons of cargo annually. To move this cargo on the Nation's highways would require an additional 24 million trucks, would cost billions more in fuel costs, and generate millions of tons of pollution.

The Federal Government has invested in this infrastructure for over 200 years. The locks and dams that are the backbone of this system are built with a 50-year design life; yet many, for example, those on the Monongahela River in western Pennsylvania, are over 100 years old.

I am deeply troubled by the lack of funding for these projects and specifically by the lack of progress on finding a solution to the funding shortfalls in the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. This fund generates roughly $85 million per year through a fuel tax on barges, yet falls well short of the $380 million per year the Inland Waterways Users Board estimates is needed to fully fund capital reinvestments in the system.

The Transportation Department projects that the waterway traffic will increase 20 percent by 2020. We can no longer afford to sit on our hands and wait for these vital lanes of commerce to fail. We need to invest in America and keep our Federal waterways open for business. The Inland Waterways System is far too important to allow it to continue to languish with inadequate funding and crumbling infrastructure.

I look forward to working with the chairman, the ranking member, and Mr. Doyle to find a solution to this urgent need.

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