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Public Statements

Water Resources Development Act Of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - April 19, 2007)


Mr. HULSHOF. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 1495. I grew up in the shadow of levees along the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri. And while the river, at times destructive, the river has been a provider for me and my family, delivering the grain from our farm to international markets.

And I will tell you, as the gentleman from Minnesota has stated, the nickels and dimes that we saved by shipping via barge were often the difference between our farm ending up in the red or ending up in the black. Those few cents have helped keep food on our table; clothes on our back; and, over the years, kept our farm even within our own family.

Title VIII of the legislation, lock modernization, will insure that farmers in northeast Missouri and farmers in Iowa and Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and elsewhere will continue to have the same benefit that my family had, the ability to ship crops to international markets via the most cost-effective method.

I will tell you that a recent study by the Food and Ag Policy Research Institute, FAPRI, found that if the Mississippi River and Illinois waterways were forced to close, possibly because of a massive lock failure, that farmers, our own U.S. farmers, would lose between $645 million and $806 million a year, a year in increased transportation costs. We experienced a glimpse of that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when the river was shut down, navigation was shut down for a short time during the fall of 2005. Farmers endured a 60-cent-per-bushel penalty on a bushel of corn during that critical time in September of 2005. And a massive failure, unfortunately, is a distinct possibility.

These locks are standing just out of habit, or as my constituent, Senator KIT BOND, is fond of saying, ``These locks belong in the National Register of Historic Locations.'' They were built in the 1930s to accommodate steamboats for the next 50 years. As the gentleman pointed out, these locks are no longer navigation aids, but hindrances. They are 600 feet long. The modern barge is close to 1,200 feet, often three across and five long.

What I want to emphasize again to my friend from Oregon who spoke, and others, these locks benefit the American public in other ways. The typical tow removes 870 18-wheel tractor trailer trucks from our already congested roads, bridges, and interstate highways. A gallon of diesel fuel will push one ton of freight 2 1/2 times further by barge than by locomotive; nine times farther than by truck. Moreover, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, towboats emit 35 to 60 percent fewer pollutants than locomotives or trucks. All in all, all worthy.

I urge its support.


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