USA: New Bill to Prepare Mississippi River for Panama Canal Expansion
Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02) reintroduced the DREDGE Act – Dredging for Restoration and Economic Development for Global Exports Act.
The bill would give the Army Corps of Engineers the authorization to dredge the Mississippi River to 50 feet so that larger vessels transiting the expanded Panama Canal can access the River. In addition, the bill creates a pilot project to promote the rebuilding of wetlands using existing sediment dredged from the River.
“For our economy to prosper, it is imperative that the single most important river in the United States be prepared for the 21st Century economy,” said Congressman Richmond. “Readying the Mississippi River for the expanded Panama Canal is critical to taking advantage of new trade while expanding U.S. exports to businesses worldwide. By reintroducing the DREDGE Act with a diverse group of supporters, we invest in our economy while strengthening wetland restoration efforts in Louisiana. I look forward to working with my Republican and Democratic colleagues, as well as Senator Landrieu who is introducing this legislation in the Senate. As a nation, we must continue make smart investments in our infrastructure to remain competitive in the global market.”
“Louisiana’s strategic access to the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River is one of our most valuable economic assets,” said Sen. Landrieu. “Dredging to 50 feet will allow for larger vessels and more traffic, making our maritime industry even more effective and competitive. This will not only be an economic boost, but expanded beneficial use of dredged material has the potential to greatly enhance our coastal restoration efforts. I am proud to join Rep. Richmond in this important initiative.”
In addition to deepening the Mississippi River, the DREDGE Act of 2013 calls for smarter use of sediment dredged from the River. This legislation directs the Corps to install a pump-out site in Southwest Pass so that the sediment is no longer wasted and is instead used to rebuild our wetlands.
“This legislation is good public policy and a wise use of public funds that are now being wasted off the outer continental shelf which has probably exacerbated the dead zone in the Gulf,” said Gulf Oyster Industry Council Board member Al Sunseri. “The GOIC will do everything we can to help pass this common sense, solution-driven legislation.”
The DREDGE Act of 2013 is also supported by:
– The Gulf Oyster Industry Council
– Associated Branch Pilots of the Port of New Orleans (Bar Pilots)
– Crescent River Port Pilots Association
– New Orleans – Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association
– Federal Pilots and Docking Master of Louisiana
– Plaquemines Port, Harbor and Terminal
– St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District
– Port of New Orleans
– Port of South Louisiana
– Cooper/T. Smith Stevedoring
– Raven Energy LLC of Louisiana
– Associated Terminals, LLCArcher Daniels Midland
– Louisiana Maritime Association
– Nucor Steel
– Ports Association of Louisiana
– Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO.
Press Release, March 15, 2013