McCaskill Continues Call for Action on Mississippi River
Senator urges Governor Nixon to use his authority to request disaster designation from President Obama
November 28, 2012
WASHINGTON - In the wake of a recent decision by the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today wrote to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon urging him to formally request an emergency declaration from President Obama to expedite action on the issue.
"I know Governor Nixon is as anxious as I am to get this problem solved-and an emergency declaration would give us the tools we need to find a solution," McCaskill said. "Missouri jobs depend on this critical action, and I'm going to explore every avenue possible to protect them."
The Army Corps of Engineers recently reduced the flow of water from the Missouri River into the Mississippi River at Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota from 17,000 cubic feet per second to 12,000 cubic feet per second, which by mid-December could jeopardize river shipping lanes, adversely affecting the region's economy.
The letter to Governor Nixon urges him to request the emergency declaration from President Obama, which would allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to quickly remove rock pinnacles near Grand Tower and Thebes, Illinois, and to release water into the Missouri River necessary to maintain commercial navigation on the Mississippi River. Generally, an integral part of securing a disaster declaration is for a state's Governor to request such a declaration from the President, since input from a Governor's office-which has immediate access to current information about an evolving emergency-is vital.
"This year's historic drought conditions, combined with the recent implementation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of plans to reduce the release of water to the Mississippi River from dams on the Missouri River, has created a crisis situation," the letter reads.
McCaskill recently joined 14 of her Senate colleagues in calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to take action to sustain navigation on the Mississippi River and she is formally supporting a group of industry leaders who recently called on the President to declare an emergency.
McCaskill's letter to Governor Nixon is available below:
Dear Governor Nixon,
As you know, this year's historic drought conditions, combined with the recent implementation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of plans to reduce the release of water to the Mississippi River from reservoirs on the Missouri River, has created a crisis situation. Commercial navigation on the Mississippi River will be severely impaired as early as mid-December unless action is taken.
Industry representatives have written to the Obama administration requesting that the President declare an emergency, direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to immediately act to remove rock pinnacles threatening navigation near Grand Tower and Thebes, Illinois, and provide for the release of such water from Missouri River reservoirs as is necessary to preserve a nine-foot navigation channel on the Mississippi River in order to sustain commercial navigation. I am joining with a number of my Senate colleagues, including Senator Blunt, in formally supporting this request.
I know that you share my goal of ensuring that the actions necessary to maintain navigation on the Mississippi River are taken. I commend you for the efforts you have already made in pursuit of this goal, including your November 9th letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy. However, more action is necessary in light of the crisis situation that is being exacerbated by the Corps' reduction of upstream Missouri River water releases.
With navigation acutely threatened, and, in light of the emergency declaration request made by industry, I urge you to submit a formal request to the President for an emergency declaration. As you know, the President can declare such an emergency independently, but also at the request of a Governor, making input from you an important element in the evaluation of the severity of an emergency situation.
Find your local office