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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DOYLE. Madam Chair, I rise today to engage in a colloquy with the chairman and the ranking member.

I'm here today to express my concern with the future of the Nation's inland waterway system.

The bill before us today, despite the chairman's best efforts, continues a trend of underfunding needed infrastructure improvements in our Nation's locks and dams. This underfunding is a combination of the administration's request and lack of a long-term solution to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.

Locks and dams are a crucial mechanism of commerce and mode of transportation in Pennsylvania. They allow for the transport of commodities that are essential to businesses in my region, like coal, grain, and scrap metal. Along the Allegheny River, the Army Corps' budget for operating locks and dams was cut by nearly one-half in just one year.

Projects on other rivers in the Pittsburgh region, the Ohio and the Monongahela, have slowed to a stop or are in need of repair. The cuts to this fund have the Corps and surrounding communities and businesses wondering exactly how or if a repair will be made if something breaks.

But this is only a portion of the work that needs to be done, and the mechanism that we have to fund new or major rehabilitation projects, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, is also in need of repair. Even in times of fiscal restraint, we must find ways to fund projects that protect our safety and allow the use of our waterways for commerce. The longer we wait to fully respond to the critical needs for our infrastructure, the more they are going to cost.

Madam Chairman, just in a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, quoting our local Corps person:

This is it for the Allegheny locks and dams. If something breaks we've got to scramble for funds, and there's no guarantee we'll fix it.

This has forced the Corps to adopt a fix-when-fail attitude towards maintaining about 200 locks and related dams on about 11,000 miles of the Nation's rivers. The average lock is over 60 years old. In Pittsburgh, they're over 80 years old.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to work with you and the ranking member to find a solution to this urgent need.


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