Reps. Lipinski and Roskam Succeed in Protecting Local Economy and Environment
U.S. Reps. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) and Peter Roskam (IL-6) have succeeded in blocking an attempt to add language to the annual federal spending bill – known this year as the “cromnibus” – that would have crippled the economically vital Illinois waterways system and put our environment at risk. Some members of the House had been working on including construction authorization for physical barriers that would restrict barge traffic at the Brandon Road Lock & Dam near Joliet and along the Chicago Area Waterways System. If approved, this would have had a disastrous impact on the current and future potential of the area waterways system, which currently moves 100 million tons of goods worth nearly $28 billion each year, and would have undermined the environmental reviews contained in the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act signed into law this year. But after Lipinski and Roskam led 15 of their colleagues in a bipartisan letter to Speaker Boehner, the final language of the report accompanying the bill specifically forbids the installation of infrastructure that would effectively close the waterway – a process formally known as hydrologic separation that involves constructing physical barriers.
“There is no question that we must continue to fight the spread of Asian carp and other invasive species,” said Rep. Lipinski. “Unfortunately, some of our colleagues had proposed installing physical barriers that would have effectively closed the Illinois Waterways, and would have done so by circumventing congressional debate, proper project review, and the necessary environmental reviews for this project. Fortunately, House leadership responded to our concerns and included language that clearly states that the issue would need to be fully analyzed by the Corps of Engineers and that no funding has been provided in this bill for hydrologic separation.
“Funding is only provided for the continued construction, operation, and maintenance of the electric barrier system, which is what I have continued to fight for,” continued Lipinski. “It is clear that a full and proper review process is mandated by law, something that wasn’t going to happen during this lame duck session of Congress. I will continue to work on protecting our region’s waters from invasive species, while also fighting to preserve our local economic and environmental interests. Congress has an obligation to the environment and economy of our nation, and this proposal would have upturned decades of environmental law in the effort to implement a problematic solution to an issue that is being carefully considered and studied by experts.”
In addition to Illinois, the bill would have also hurt the economies of Louisiana, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, and West Virginia by delaying shipments of coal, chemicals, and agricultural products from and to these states.
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