U.S. Senators Again Press for Corps Action

In response to an Army Corps of Engineers decision that will gradually reduce the outflow from an upper Missouri River dam in South Dakota by more than two-thirds by December 11th - a large group of organizations and lawmakers asked the President last week (week of November 26) to ask President Obama to direct the Corps to release as much water as necessary from the Missouri River reservoirs to preserve a nine-foot channel on the Mississippi River. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that the Obama Administration shares the specific concerns from lawmakers and others about the decreasing water level of the Mississippi and is exploring all possible options. For their part - the Corps vowed to speed efforts - as quickly as the law will allow - to keep the river open. But on Friday - U.S. Senators representing states along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers elevated the request for the Army Corps of Engineers to manage water levels on the Missouri River to avoid a catastrophic economic problem on the Mississippi River. In a letter - the senators urged the President to issue an emergency directive to permit additional water flows from the Missouri River reservoirs to maintain navigation on the Mississippi. Without emergency action - the senators say commercial navigation on the middle Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri and Cairo, Illinois will be severely impaired as early as mid-December.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says there needs to be a coordinated effort to ensure navigation doesn't come to a halt on the Mississippi. He says such a major interruption in commercial activity would ultimately impact jobs throughout the region - and steps can be taken to prevent it.

Grassley signed the letter to the President along with Tom Harkin of Iowa, Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mark Pryor and John Boozman of Arkansas, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Mary Landrieu and David Vitter of Louisiana, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

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