The Louisiana House Delegation today called on President Obama and the House Appropriations Committee to ensure adequate dredging of state rivers as well as increased protection to its levee systems in response to recent record flooding. Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA) led the letter to President Obama. Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) led the letter to the House Committee on Appropriations. The letters both request that the dredging of state rivers and the protection of the levee systems be included in any emergency supplemental appropriations bill. An excerpt from the letter reads:
"As the Mississippi's high waters recede, the sediment will settle, silting in the river at unprecedented rates, and placing American goods at a competitive disadvantage. In addition, our levee systems have suffered from the record flooding. Many areas along the river and its tributaries have seen seepage and sand boils which weaken the system. While the flooding has done most of its damage, there is still time to prevent this second economic disaster."
"The high waters and recent tornadoes affected our American family immensely. As a family, we are praying for those affected by these disasters," said Richmond. "And yet there is another, quieter, preventable disaster on the horizon. If we do not invest in our rivers and levees we will see more destruction. We can stop this. We can correct the course."
"The recent flooding along the Mississippi has weakened our levee system while causing sediment buildup along our rivers, and this must be swiftly addressed in any upcoming emergency response legislation," Scalise said. "Our river systems are vital to job growth and maintaining our country's export capacity, and helps states compete in international markets. A failure to adequately dredge our rivers will lead to harmful draft restrictions and will cause unnecessary economic damage along with schedule disruptions for employers throughout the country. We must move quickly to address this problem in order to maintain the river at a depth that allows companies throughout the country to quickly transport their products down our rivers and to worldwide ports. We can ill afford to allow American jobs and commerce to be jeopardized due to an inadequate federal response."
All Members of the House delegation commented on the importance of the funding.
"If emergency funding is not provided to the Corps to rebuild the levees, re-dredge the navigation channels, and restock the Corps emergency supplies -- the Corps will be unable to perform as admirably during the next flood fight and commerce will be impeded," remarked Congressman Jeff Landry (R-LA03).
"We can limit further economic harm by including essential funding for dredging the Mississippi, Atchafalaya and other rivers and strengthening the levee systems that are in place to protect thousands of American households and businesses. Immediate action must be taken to help the victims of recent natural disasters begin the road to recovery. Providing access to critical federal aid is a good start," commented Congressman Rodney Alexander (R-LA05)
"The flooding in Louisiana proves once again the need for regular and sustained maintenance of our harbors and waterways," Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA07) said. "Sediment deposits hinder our ability to move Louisiana products to the global marketplace. Including dredging as part of emergency funding is critical to quickly return our waterways to normal levels. We can reduce the need for emergency dredging funds by fully implementing the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and providing the Corps of Engineers consistent funding."
"I call on the President, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Army Corps of Engineers to end the accounting gimmick of shortchanging the dredging accounts in their annual budget request, expecting Congress to step in and cover the difference. The risks to our state and national economies of not doing so are unacceptable. In a fragile economy, we simply can't afford to see commerce along the Mississippi River diminished because of the Administration's inaction," said Congressman John Fleming, M.D. (R-LA04)
"Recent flooding has increased the urgency of proper dredging of the Mississippi River. While the high tide on the river will soon recede, the same cannot be said for the debris and other material that came with it. Left unchecked, this material will continue to delay ships and barges, costing us jobs and potentially damaging our economy. Congress and the president must ensure we do not compound this tragedy by failing to provide the adequate resources for this critical work," said Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA06).