During yesterday’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing in Washington, DC, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and Congressman Rodney Davis reminded the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) that the lack of funding to upgrade and modernize our locks and dams on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers is unacceptable.
Illinois corn farmers couldn’t agree more.
Mr. Davis even joked with the Assistant Secretary of the Army and the Commanding General and Chief of Engineers – both representing the ACE – that the hearing just wouldn’t be a hearing if he didn’t bring up NESP (Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program). NESP has been authorized by Congress but awaiting funding for a decade.
“I think it is unacceptable that the Corps has taken a position to do another study before we can even get to the preconstruction engineering and design. This project – NESP – has been studied, I believe, more than any other Corps project in your agency’s history. To do another economic analysis before we move forward is something that needs to be rethought,” Congressman Davis said.
“We have strong bipartisan support for NESP, R.D.,” he said to R.D. James, the Assistant Secretary of the Army. “Can you commit today to work with me and my colleagues to get the preconstruction engineering and design back on track as soon as possible so we can get these critical navigation and ecosystem projects to actual construction?”
The Honorable R.D. James indicated that he would work with Mr. Davis toward that goal, but actions speak louder than words.
Regarding NESP, Congresswoman Bustos representing the northwestern region of the State of Illinois including much of the Mississippi River and a bit of the Illinois River, said, “The navigation and environmental aspects of the program are critical to his [Cong Davis] district, to my district, to our state, to our region, so I do really appreciate your commitment and also would appreciate being able to work with you … on that program.”
“I know that people from throughout my Cong district would line up to talk with you about how the locks and dams have outlived their usefulness,” she said.
A big thank you to Congressman Rodney Davis and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos for remembering the importance of our locks and dams to farmers, manufacturers, Illinoisans, and even the rest of the world, as farmers continue to buy and sell in a global economy.