Administration Shows Little Support for WRDA

Secretary Johanns publicly states lock modernization is not necessary and too costly. Compiled by staff 

Published on: Feb 21, 2006

Public comments made by the Bush administration indicate a strong lack of support for the Water Resources Development Act. The National Corn Growers Association is "outraged" by recent actions that do not match the president's campaign promises made to corn growers.

In recent comments, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns says that the lock and dam system on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers can be viable for another 50 years or more.

"Those in the administration, including Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns have publicly stated that lock modernization is not necessary and too costly, yet they are heavily calling for increased trade to make rural America prosperous," says Gerald Tumbleson, NCGA president. "We have a dichotomy here - on one hand the administration is calling for increased trade, global markets and competitiveness, yet they are strangling the very economic engines that allow us to be competitive by failing to invest in our nation's transportation infrastructure."

Bush told NCGA in his 2004 re-election bid of his administration's commitment to WRDA: "For many Midwest communities an efficient lock and dam system on the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway System is vital to jobs and economic growth. My administration has recognized the importance of river traffic to commerce. …We will continue our work to address river congestion. As we continue to open new markets to the nation's goods, we must ensure that the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway system continue to meet the needs of the nation."

Tumbleson says the administration's newfound opposition to WRDA will have ramifications to the entire nation's economic viability whether you are a corn grower or consumer.

"WRDA and improvements to the navigation systems on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers is a direct domestic investment in jobs, local communities and businesses across the country," he says. "The river is a system; if any one component of this system should fail, the system as a whole fails, costing the entire nation billions of dollars. If the administration thinks there is no ripple effect then it is obviously forgetting the effects of Hurricane Katrina."