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HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS PETITION PRESIDENT CLINTON TO SAFEGUARD MISSISSIPPI RIVER COMMERCE

 WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- About 70 mid-continent members of the House and Senate have asked President Clinton to scrutinize a forthcoming ruling by the Army Corps of Engineers that might seriously threaten the $16 billion worth of commerce that travels on the Mississippi River system each year.
 The corps is currently reviewing its Master Water Control Manual for the Missouri River reservoirs, a tributary system that supplies nearly half of the water in the Mississippi at St. Louis. The corps is considering holding more water in the reservoirs, thereby threatening to lower water levels in the Missouri to a point where navigation on the Mississippi would be imperiled.
 "This would have serious consequences for the entire Mississippi River System," the Senate and House members said in their bipartisan Feb. 17 letter to the president. "The integrity of the inland waterways systems is at stake."
 Joe Farrell, president of the American Waterways Operators, the national trade association of the inland and coastal barge and towing industry, said, "This is not an Old West water rights squabble, but a modern problem for all Americans. Unsound changes to the corps' Master Manual could injure both U.S. exports and consumers dependent upon America's waterway infrastructure and the billions in commerce ... grain, coal, petroleum, building materials and other vital commodities ... that travel annually along these great rivers."
 In their letter, the congressmen state: "The Mississippi River system, which includes the Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas and Illinois Rivers, is a vital component of our nation's transportation network. Over 100 million tons of cargo, worth almost $16 billion, cross the middle region of the Mississippi River every year ... More than half of the nation's grain exports are shipped on the system ... Major sectors of our economy depend on reliable flows of water for navigation."
 The congressmen urged President Clinton to assign a cabinet-level task force consisting of at least the Secretaries of Defense, Transportation and Agriculture to review the policy choices under consideration by the Corps of Engineers. The corps is expected to issue its preliminary recommendations mid-1993.
 -0- 2/18/93
 /NOTE: A list of signators is available from the contact./
 /CONTACT: Jeffrey A. Smith or Curtis E. Whalen, both of The American Waterways Operators, 703-841-9300, or fax, 703-841-0389/


CO: The American Waterways Operators ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:

IH -- DC004 -- 7717 02/18/93 09:07 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 18, 1993
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