2011-2012 News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 9, 2012

U.S. House Forges Ahead to End Wasteful Spending, Reduce Recovery Program Funding and Fund Ongoing Flood Repairs

HIGBEE, MO – The U.S. House of Representatives reaffirmed its desire to prohibit funding of the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS) and the Missouri River Ecosystem Restoration Plan (MRERP) for yet another year this week.  In addition, they voted 242-168 to reduce funding for the Missouri River Recovery Program (MRRP) from its Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 level of $71 million to a FY13 level of $50 million.

“The House has again seen the need to eliminate wasteful, duplicative and largely ineffective spending,” stated Randy Asbury, executive director of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River (CPR).

“It’s encouraging when our Congressional representatives have the foresight and courage to lead the way toward fiscal responsibility.

“We are grateful to Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO) for leading the efforts regarding MRAPS and MRERP and to Congressman Sam Graves (MO) for his efforts to reduce the MRRP funding.

“In addition, our hat goes off to Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (MO) for his work to increase flood assistance funding by $3 million to continue to address the aftermath of the 2011 flood event.”

The MRAPS study was designed to enhance the economic and recreation benefits of a few upper Missouri River interests at the expense of broader interests in both the Missouri and Mississippi River basins.  It came on the heels of a comprehensive 17-year, $35 million study that made significant changes to the Missouri River Master Manual.

The MRERP study was authorized to determine actions required to mitigate losses of aquatic and terrestrial habitat; recover federally listed species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA); and restore the ecosystem to prevent further declines among other native species.

The study became singularly focused on restoring the ecosystem using a reference condition of pre-Lewis and Clark.  For this reason, it had many economic interests in its crosshairs because of their perceived “stress” on the historic ecosystem.

The MRERP study would likely result in river management for the next thirty to fifty years that would be in direct conflict with some current authorized purposes and environmentally-friendly economic interests.

MRRP appropriations have totaled over $600 million since 1992. Federal agencies have historically maintained compliance with ESA mandates under funding levels similar to those approved by the House this week.  Therefore, the reduced level should not impede ongoing Biological Opinion/ESA efforts. MRRP effectiveness begs the question for the ongoing need for extravagant appropriation levels for the species recovery benefits accrued to date.

In addition, Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project infrastructure continues to decline due to the out of balance attention given the environmental versus social, cultural and economic values of the Missouri River Basin.  Stakeholders believe greater funding attention is needed to correct and repair channel maintenance and bank erosion issues.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 1, 2011

Scientists Say Managed Spring Pulse Unnecessary as a Spawning Cue for Pallid Sturgeon

HIGBEE, Mo. – The Missouri River Recovery Program Independent Science Advisory Panel (ISAP) Final Report on Spring Pulses and Adaptive Management was publicly released on November 30. The report confirmed the longstanding assertions of economic stakeholders by concluding the managed spring pulse mandated by the Missouri River Biological Opinions (BiOp) is unnecessary as a cue for pallid sturgeon spawning activities.

“Stakeholders were not surprised to learn the independent science panel charged with the managed spring pulse review upon considering thousands of pages of peer-reviewed literature and agency reports confirmed spring pulses are not needed,” stated Randy Asbury, executive director of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River.

“Because this report is based on the consensus views of the panelists and the best available science, Lower Basin economic interests call on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to immediately and permanently terminate managed spring pulse operations. Farmers and municipalities have for too long been exposed to unwarranted flood risks and economic harm as a result of an ineffective and unjustified BiOp mandate.”

The ISAP report stated, “Pallid sturgeon have spawned in the lower Missouri River in all years for which data are available, with and without managed spring pulses. Based on that information, the ISAP concludes that the spring pulse management action, as currently designed, is unnecessary to serve as a cue for spawning in pallid sturgeon.”

Furthermore, the report concluded, “The Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPAs) in the biological opinions identified managed spring pulse releases from Gavins Point Dam as one of the primary means for mitigating impacts to the three listed species resulting from its operation. However, the best available scientific information indicates that the spring pulse management strategy as implemented cannot provide some of the expected outcomes and is not necessary to achieve other expected outcomes.”

The ISAP was tasked with this review by the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC). MRRIC is a 70-member Committee comprised of stakeholders, Tribal representatives and state and federal agencies throughout the Missouri River Basin and provides recommendations to federal agencies on Missouri River recovery efforts.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 18, 2011

Luetkemeyer’s Missouri River Amendments Expose Ongoing Government Waste

HIGBEE, MO. – Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer’s amendments to prohibit Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Act funding for two Missouri River studies – the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS) and the Missouri River Ecosystem Restoration Plan (MRERP) – successfully passed by voice vote in the House late last week.

“We are grateful that the House has again expressed its willingness to eliminate wasteful spending on Missouri River studies,” stated Randy Asbury, executive director of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River. “We supported Congressman Luetkemeyer’s efforts to prohibit FY2011 MRAPS funding and are grateful for his ongoing leadership on this issue. There is no place in present day Missouri River discussions for a study that pits one region against another.

The MRAPS,  which came on the heels of a comprehensive 17-year, $35 million study that made significant changes to the Missouri River Master
Manual, was designed to enhance the economic and recreation benefits of a few upper Missouri River interests at the expense of broader interests in both the Missouri and Mississippi River basins.

While the MRERP study was originally authorized to determine actions required to mitigate losses of aquatic and terrestrial habitat; recover federally listed species under the Endangered Species Act; and restore the ecosystem to prevent further declines among other native species, it has become singularly focused on restoring the ecosystem using a reference condition of pre-Lewis and Clark.

The MRERP study is scheduled to last at least another half-dozen years and its proposed FY2012 funding is $4 million.

“It’s time to refocus our efforts, energies and funding on the infrastructure needs critical to all Missouri River basin interests rather than
wasting millions on unnecessary studies,” concluded Asbury.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 15, 2011

Congress Eliminates Wasteful Spending on Duplicative Missouri River Study

HIGBEE, MO. – Agriculture, navigation and utility interests along the Lower Missouri River were elated that the U.S. Congress voted to prohibit Fiscal Year 2011 funding for the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS).

“This is a tremendous victory for the Nation and Lower Basin Missouri River economic stakeholders,” stated Randy Asbury, executive director of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River (CPR).

“Congress saw the MRAPS earmark for what we’ve always said it was – duplicative and wasteful.

“We are especially grateful to Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO) for leading this bi-partisan effort in the House and to Senators McCaskill, Blunt and Harkin (IA) for their adamant support and assistance in the Senate.”

The study was designed to enhance the economic and recreation benefits of a few upper Missouri River interests at the expense of broader interests in both the Missouri and Mississippi River basins. It came on the heels of a comprehensive 17-year, $35 million study that made significant changes to the Missouri River Master Manual.

At its completion, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers believed the Master Manual changes addressed the contemporary needs of the Missouri River basin. Furthermore, the recent MRAPS public scoping process reaffirmed the importance of the current authorized purposes.

“We were extremely pleased with the efforts of our Missouri and Mississippi River Basin stakeholders who collaborated to bring this unwarranted study to an end,” stated Asbury.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2011

River Coalition Applauds Wisdom of the U.S. House of Representatives in their Decision to Defund Missouri River Study

HIGBEE, Mo. – Members and allies of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River (CPR) applaud the actions of the U.S. House of Representatives in their 245-176 decision to prohibit Fiscal Year 2011 funding for the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS).

“We are very pleased that Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer’s MRAPS amendment received such overwhelming support in the Continuing Resolution process,” stated Randy Asbury, executive director of the CPR.

“It’s clear this Congress understands the wasteful spending created by MRAPS and wisely chose to do something about it.

“We are proud that Missouri’s entire House delegation along with Iowa Congressmen Boswell, King, Latham and Loebsack and numerous Mississippi River Basin delegates stood together on this non-partisan issue so important to the lower Missouri and Mississippi River Basin.”

The MRAPS study was designed to enhance the economic and recreation benefits of a few upper Missouri River interests at the expense of broader interests in both the Missouri and Mississippi River basins. The MRAPS came on the heels of a comprehensive 17-year, $35 million study that made significant changes to the Missouri River Master Manual.

At its completion, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers believed the Master Manual changes addressed the contemporary needs of the Missouri River basin. Furthermore, the recent MRAPS public scoping process reaffirmed the importance of the current authorized purposes.

Asbury concluded, “It was wasteful to conduct another multi-year, multi-million dollar study only because a few special interests wanted to alter outcomes to further their interests at the expense of others.

“As our Nation faces historic spending and deficit levels, we believe it’s imperative that all wasteful spending be targeted for elimination. We are grateful that Congressman Luetkemeyer and 244 other delegates saw that need and met the challenge.”

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