Following a similar effort in the House last month, the Senate is sending a letter to President Obama, asking for funding in his FY2016 budget to upgrade locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
Senators Durbin and Kirk have signed this letter (below), along with many of their colleagues from both sides of the aisle.
The letter specifically asks Obama to fund NESP, the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program. NESP includes construction of seven 1,200-foot locks at the most congested locations (Locks and Dams 20, 21, 22, 24, and 25 on the Upper Mississippi River and La Grange and Peoria on the Illinois Waterway).
NESP’s authorization includes $1,948 billion for the seven new locks and $256 million for the small scale efficiency measures.
IL Corn thanks both Senator Durbin and Senator Kirk for their support on this important issue for Illinois corn farmers.
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As you prepare your FY2016 Budget Request, we encourage you to pay appropriate attention to the funding needs of the Upper Mississippi & Illinois Rivers - the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS). Congress has officially recognized the national significance of the UMRS for its ecosystem and navigation capabilities. With this in mind, we urge you to support the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), which will not only benefit the entire Mississippi River, but the entire country, given its national importance.
The 2007 Water Resources and Development Act authorized NESP for navigation improvement projects. The program has a dual function of ensuring the efficient maintenance of navigation infrastructure as well as restoration of the river's ecosystem. Overdue and necessary investment in the program would ensure that the UMR remains a commercially functioning navigation system.
Waterways are key to U.S. competition in the global economy. With the explosion of world food and energy needs, the Mississippi River is poised to be more important than ever. The river already moves large volumes of agricultural and energy products between U.S. markets and ports, and serves as the country's busiest waterway. However, decades-old and undersized locks slow traffic and limit capacity. Our river infrastructure is currently suffering from long-term underinvestment.
Further investment in NESP would strengthen infrastructure and navigation for the entire river and recognize the significance of the UMRS ecosystem to surrounding communities and wildlife. Many NESP projects could be ready for construction within a year, immediately improving the economy and the environment and affirming the importance of program.
Congress authorized NESP to improve the long-term economic capability and ecological importance of the UMRS, and its success is supported by a broad coalition of river stakeholders. We urge you to build on these goals by supporting NESP funding needs in your upcoming FY2016 Budget Request.