Pittsburgh, PA- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), joined by waterways industry leaders, detailed new investments coming to Western Pennsylvania’s locks and dams as a result of language Casey secured in legislation enacted into law at the end of last year. Casey also called for congressional appropriators to provide additional funding in the upcoming budget. Casey and industry leaders highlighted what the new investments will mean for the region, and released a new letter to Congressional appropriators pushing for a robust investment in this year’s budget. Casey described his recently enacted legislation that is set to provide new funding to the waterways system, which supports 200,000 jobs in the region. Casey also successfully urged the Army Corps to redirect $58 million to the Lower Mon in FY 2015 Work Plan.
“Our locks and dams play a vital role in creating and sustaining jobs and in supporting economic growth in Southwestern Pennsylvania and throughout the country,” said Senator Casey. “I'm pleased that Congress came together around bipartisan, commonsense solutions to improve our waterways infrastructure throughout the nation. In the coming year we need to maintain this progress and ensure that our locks and dams have adequate resources.”
“Senator Casey's diligence and commitment to addressing this issue made a substantial difference to our economy. His success on this issue means jobs and more opportunities for our many companies which rely on the locks and dams for their day to day business,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “While we know the investments are substantial, this is great progress towards that end and I have every confidence that with Senator Casey taking the lead, we will be successful.”
Since 2007, Senator Casey has helped to secure over $233 million for the Lower Mon Project. In February 2013, Senator Casey introduced the RIVER Act, which sought to significantly boost the nations’ locks and dams while creating jobs. The majority of Senator Casey’s RIVER Act was included in the final version of the Water Reform and Resource Development Act and enacted into law at the end of last year.
Following the passage of the FY 2014 omnibus appropriations bill, Senator Casey sent a letter to Assistant Secretary Darcy urging her to prioritize additional funding for the Lower Mon Project, leading to a total of $74.675 million being allocated to the Lower Mon Project, a $72.5 million increase over the initial allocation. Following the passage of the FY 2015 bill, Senator Casey sent another letter to Assistant Secretary Darcy urging her to prioritize additional funding for the Lower Mon Project. This led to a total of $58 million being allocated to the Lower Mon Project, a $49 million increase over the initial allocation.
Below is the full text of Senator Casey’s letter to Senate appropriators calling for robust funding of the Lower Mon project:
Dear Chairmen, Vice Chairwoman, and Ranking Member:
As the Subcommittee begins its work on the fiscal year 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, I write to express my strong support for robust funding for the Lower Mon project, located in southwestern Pennsylvania. Until recently, this job-creating project was at a standstill due to insufficient funding, leading me to introduce the RIVER Act to address the lack of funding for the Lower Mon and other locks and dams projects. I am pleased that the majority of the RIVER Act was included in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) and enacted into law at the end of last Congress as part Tax Prevention Act of 2014. While enactment of this legislation has provided significant new funding for locks and dams projects, pending water infrastructure project needs, both with respect to the Lower Mon and more broadly, continue to significantly outpace available funding. As a result, I urge you to invest in the Lower Mon project in this year’s appropriations bill.
The Lower Mon project needs substantial investment over the next several years to move closer to completion. According to the Pittsburgh District of the Army Corps, southwestern Pennsylvania is losing $220 million in economic benefits every year the Lower Mon project is not complete. Failure to sufficiently invest in the project could seriously impair the transport of major commodities, such as coal, petroleum products, and grain. Numerous industries rely on the river to transport their goods and materials. If the waterways system fails, businesses will suffer and industry would see a significant increase in the cost of moving goods, which will drive up prices and harm the economy. Moreover, independent studies indicate that nearly 200,000 jobs are supported by activity on the waterways in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Robust investments in the Lower Mon’s locks and dams are vital to creating and maintaining jobs and supporting commerce in southwestern Pennsylvania. Thank you for your consideration of this project. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact my office directly.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator