Illinois farmers were certainly pleased when the House and Senate passed the Water Resources and Reform Development Act last month, signaling an awareness that our river infrastructure is important to the U.S. economy. But action expect next week could make an even bigger difference in the timely delivery of updated locks and dams.
The Highway Reauthorization bill is expected to come to the Senate floor after the July 4 recess and within that debate, the Senate will vote on Senator Bob Casey’s (PA) amendment to increase the diesel fuel user fee nine cents per gallon.
The user fee increase, agreed upon by barge companies, farmers, towing and shipping industry and all other impacted parties, would increase funds to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, allowing new locks and dams to be built much sooner than currently anticipated.
As an example, LaGrange Lock and Dam, currently estimated to finish construction in 2070, moves to a finished construction date of 2020 with the reforms made in WRRDA 2014 and a user fee increase enacted by 2015.
A gain of 50 years when it comes to project development is certainly a gain worth celebrating.
Encouraging our Illinois Senators to support Senator Casey’s amendment is crucial. When Congress returns to Washington, DC on Tuesday, July 8, consider a call or email to Senator Durbin at 202-224-2152 and Senator Kirk at 202-224-2854.