House passes bill that would pay for fighting Asian carpU.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, and other Minnesota congressmen celebrated a rare display of bipartisanship Wednesday with the passage of an $8.2 billion House bill crafting the next decade’s worth of water projects.
By: Henry C. JacksonAssociated Press, Duluth News Tribune
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, and other Minnesota congressmen celebrated a rare display of bipartisanship Wednesday with the passage of an $8.2 billion House bill crafting the next decade’s worth of water projects.
Along with mapping out plans for dams, harbors and river navigation, the legislation puts into place a plan to combat the spread of invasive carp to Minnesota waters.
“We simply cannot allow our beautiful land of 10,000 lakes to become the land of
10 billion Asian carp,” Nolan said in a statement.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which passed the House 417-3, would direct the Army Corps of Engineers to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam if it’s determined that the annual average amount of goods moving through the lock in the past five years is under
1.5 million tons per year.
Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Eden Prairie, lauded the bill’s passage, saying in a joint news release with other delegation members that the carp continues to threaten Minnesota waterways, which in turn jeopardizes the state’s ecological and economic health.
“If this invasive species continues to travel upstream some of our most vital resources could be lost,” Paulsen said.
The bill’s passage came just a week after Congress voted to end a bitterly partisan standoff that shuttered much of the federal government for 16 days and threatened a first-ever default on its debt.
“It’s another example of the people’s house focusing on way to strengthen our economy,” House Speaker John Boehner,
R-Ohio, said after the vote. “I’m proud that it passed with a strong bipartisan vote.”
Although the legislation labeled the Water Resources Reform and Development Act “contains reform in the title, it fails to deliver on the promise,” 10 conservative groups wrote in a letter to lawmakers. The groups said the bill did not do enough to cut spending or block unneeded projects.
Congress last enacted a bill approving water projects in 2007, a lapse that created pent-up demand among lawmakers for such work.
The legislation would allow work to proceed on 23 shipping channel, flood management and other water projects that the Corps of Engineers has started studying. Actual money for the work would have to be provided in future legislation.
The bill gives the go-ahead to a slew of projects, including a more than $800 million flood protection project in Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn.; a $461 million on expansion of the Savannah, Ga., port; and up to $43 million for the San Clemente, Calif., shoreline. The measure increases the share of federal dollars for the Olmsted Lock and Dam project on the border between Illinois and Kentucky.
It also would shelve at least $12 billion of old, inactive projects approved in the last water resources bill while accelerating environmental reviews, which Republicans said had slowed many projects almost to a halt.
The News Tribune contributed to this report.