FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 14, 2001
MISSOURI RIVER HELPS PROVIDE AFFORDABLE, RELIABLE ELECTRICITY
ST. LOUIS – On November 13, 2001, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held the final public workshops and hearings in Missouri regarding future management of the Missouri River. Randy Asbury, Executive Director of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River, testified at the St. Louis hearing Tuesday evening on behalf of the coalition of twenty-eight agricultural, navigational, utility, industrial and business-related entities.
In his testimony, Asbury explained to the Corps the potential impacts of Missouri River management on electricity generation. “The energy impacts of the proposed alternatives have received only a cursory discussion in public hearings to date The implementation of alternatives other than the current water control plan has the potential to be as adverse for energy interests as for anyone affected by river management change. Energy suppliers, distributors and consumers may experience unnecessary and unjustified impacts resulting from lower summer flows that in the end may cost them millions of dollars in new infrastructure investment or rate increases.”
Asbury then pointed out the importance that President Bush has placed on domestic energy production. “President Bushs goal of supplying reliable and affordable energy to our nations electric consumers cannot be overemphasized and, therefore, must not be overlooked or under analyzed in this public comment period. In fact, any recommendation that merits inclusion in the final environmental impact statement should be analyzed heavily in regard to the Presidents May 18, 2001 Executive Order 13211 that concerns regulations significantly influencing energy supply, distribution and use. Any alternative that is in direct conflict with the Presidents Comprehensive Energy Policy should be rejected.”
Missouri utilities are highly dependent on the Missouri River. According to Asbury, “Missouri has several energy generating plants that supply
energy for both rural and urban customers who use Missouri River water to cool their plants. Ameren, Utilicorp, Kansas City Power and Light and Associated Electric Cooperatives serve several million customers who are dependent on their ability to supply reliable and affordable electricity in the heat of summer or debt of winter. Lower summer flows increase the likelihood of full or partial outages. Such an occurrence during peak summer temperatures when demand is highest could jeopardize the safety of thousands and cause adverse economic consequences to thousands of businesses.
“Just this past August, Associated Electrics Chamois plant experienced river water temperatures that came close to restricting operations Obviously, had the flows been lower, Chamois could have had to come offline or reduce generation. The age and size of the Chamois plant make modifications such as cooling towers that address low water events cost prohibitive for Associated to consider Clearly, lower flows may jeopardize the ability of suppliers to reliably provide an energy source for the cooling and heating requirements their customers trust them to offer and at a rate they can afford.”
Finally, Asbury encouraged the Corps to reevaluate potential impacts on energy generation. “Utilities are concerned the Corps has underestimated the potential impacts the proposed flow reductions may have on their ability to meet and comply with current water quality standards. I request the Corps reevaluate this water supply issue to determine with greater accuracy the realistic impacts of the proposed alternatives on energy generation.
This nation demands a reliable and affordable supply of electricity to meet its ever-increasing energy needs. Any options recommended for Master Manual management should not curtail or reduce the ability of energy suppliers to meet these energy needs in an economically viable way. At this time, the current water control plan is the only feasible plan that assures utility companies this will be possible.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 8, 2001
MISSOURI RIVER PROVIDES COMPETITIVE, SAFE TRANSPORTATION OF GOODS
JEFFERSON CITY – On November 7, 2001, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held the third of four public workshops and hearings scheduled in Missouri regarding future management of the Missouri River. Randy Asbury, Executive Director of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River, testified at the Jefferson City hearing Wednesday evening on behalf of the coalition of 28 agricultural, navigational, utility, industrial and business-related entities. In his testimony, Asbury reminded the Corps of the role river navigation plays in keeping all forms of transportation competitively priced. He highlighted testimony presented at a series of Corps hearings in 1994, the last time major changes to the Missouri River Master Water Control Manual were considered.
“Depriving farmers in the Missouri River Basin of the competitive transportation structure between river, railroads, and trucks will directly impact the price paid for every bushel of grain,” Asbury said. “According to Bill Jackson, AgriServices of Brunswick, Missouri and Bob Macoy, Manager of Bartlett & Company of Waverly, Missouri, the price paid to the farmer for grain produced will be $.20-.25 per bushel less. Lower prices will reflect the higher transportation costs the river terminals will be forced to pay to get the grain on to market.
“Moving grain by barge is much more cost effective than by truck or rail. Water-compelled rates result when railroad routes running parallel
to the rivers are forced to compete with the lower-priced barge rates. There is little doubt without river navigation, the price of transporting
by rail will be even less attractive than it is currently.
“Simply put, savings result from water-compelled rates. Rail rates in North and South Dakota where the only options are truck or rail are much
higher than where there is competition from barge transportation. It is quite obvious this is because of the lack of competition.”
Asbury then pointed out the importance of Missouri River transportation to feeding the world. “The importance of agriculture and navigation to
our nation today is even of greater importance. Reliance on world markets and transportation to these export opportunities is critical to our nationÕs farm economy. World population continues to climb and our nationÕs farmers meet that challenge by producing food to meet ever-increasing needs. FarmerÕs efforts are complemented by the role navigation plays in the transportation of agricultural commodities to the world market.”
Agriculture and other industries are highly dependent on river navigation to remain competitive in the world markets. According to Asbury, “The
competitive cost of transportation on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers is one reason our nation is able to compete in global export markets.
South American countries are investing large sums in river infrastructure to upgrade their river systems to be more competitive in world markets.
America cannot afford to allow any aspect of river commerce to deteriorate for fear of losing export market share to South America at the expense of our agricultural industry.”
Finally, Asbury testified to the environmental and other societal benefits of transportation on the Missouri River. “Navigation offers transportation unparalleled in environmental effectiveness. The carrying capacity of one barge tow eliminates the need for 870 semi-trailer trucks to travel our nationÕs highways, saving lives, resources and dependence on fossil fuels. Therefore, I urge the Corps to continue with the Current Water Control Plan.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 7, 2001
COALITION TESTIFIES TO IMPORTANCE OF MISSOURI RIVER TRANSPORTATION
KANSAS CITY – On November 6, 2001, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held the second of four public workshops and hearings scheduled in Missouri regarding future management of the Missouri River. Randy Asbury, Director of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River (CPR), testified at the Kansas City hearing Tuesday evening on behalf of the coalition of 28 agricultural, navigational, utility, industrial and business-related entities.
In his testimony, Asbury stated the original intent of the United States Congress when they authorized building of the Missouri River reservoirs
in the 1940s. “The original mission of the Corps of Engineers, in relation to the Missouri River, was to support and promote navigation. The Flood Control Act of 1944 provides reservoirs should function for greatest benefit to fish, wildlife and recreation, only to such degree that flood control, irrigation, water supply, power and navigation arenÕt seriously affected.
“I find it ironic the original mission of the Corps is the least protected in the current Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement and recreation and wildlife have trumped navigation and other key river resources. Navigation is the key river resource bearing the distinction of Ômost significantly impactedÕ by the five alternatives proposed in lieu of the Current Water Control Plan.
Asbury then pointed out challenges to Missouri River navigation created by the 1993 flood. “What were once minimum service level flows before
1993 are no longer minimum service levels today. Approximately 100 dikes destroyed by the Õ93 flood have never been repaired,” says Asbury.
Reduced flow levels on the Missouri are likely to mean more than just reduced barge transportation. According to Asbury, “Summer flows below
minimum navigation will cause navigation to cease altogether on the Missouri River. It must be understood navigators cannot withstand a reduction of 72 days, or 30 percent of their operating season year after year, and expect to remain economically viable. This would be like asking Wal-Mart to shut down from September 14 to December 31.
“It is unjustified and unfair to place the weight of a species recovery scheme on the shoulders of the river commerce industry. This also contradicts congressional language requiring navigation to be maintained as a congressionally authorized purpose of the Missouri River.”
Mississippi River transportation would also be negatively impacted by lower Missouri River flows. Asbury explained, “Approximately two-thirds
of the flow in the Ôbottleneck reachÕ of the Mississippi River between Cairo, Illinois, and St. Louis is provided by Missouri River flows in
dry years. Summer flows as proposed by the alternatives will not be sufficient to meet navigational needs in the bottleneck reach from mid-late summer.
The outcome of adverse consequences to both Missouri and Mississippi River commerce will dramatically impact transportation for agricultural and industrial uses.
According to Asbury, economic impacts cannot be overstated. “An economic ripple effect reaching far beyond navigation interests will occur if competition in the transportation industry is reduced. Farmers alone could realize a reduction of 20 cents per bushel on their commodities due to transportation cost increases if navigation ceases to exist. ThatÕs 10 percent of the value of corn. With this in mind, I urge the Corps to continue the Current Water Control Plan.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 1, 2001
FOR CURRENT MISSOURI RIVER PLAN
ST. JOSEPH – On November 1, 2001, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held the first of four public workshops and hearings scheduled in Missouri regarding future management of the Missouri River. Members of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri
River (CPR) were out in record numbers for the hearing in St. Joseph to testify in support of the Current Water Control Plan for the Missouri River.
At the hearing, Randy Asbury, CPR Executive Director, expressed agriculture’s concerns with four of the six Corps alternatives proposing a “spring rise” plan. “Flood plain farmers face natural risks of flooding and inland drainage problems. Too much moisture is as detrimental to crop production as too little moisture.
For this reason, we are greatly concerned with the spring rise alternatives. Man-made river flows increasing the risk of flooding and inland drainage problems are unacceptable.
“No logical justification exists for the increased exposure for flooding of 1.4 million acres of prime farmland. Federal agencies cannot rationalize the threat to approximately 30,400 buildings worth approximately $17.6 billion in order to create less than 164 acres of bird habitat and a fish-spawning cue that may or may not help the pallid sturgeon. The Missouri River watershed drains
one-sixth of the United States over an eight-state area and the river itself is 2,341 miles long, yet the resulting benefit (from a spring rise) to sandbar acreage is miniscule.”
Asbury pointed out the problem of incidental rainfall turning the spring rise into a major flood. “It takes 10-11 days for any releases from Gavins Point in South Dakota to travel to St. Louis. The Corps admittedly doesn’t have the technical
capability to forecast a rain event or rain runoff. In spite of this, we’re expected to trust once additional water is released from Gavins Point, no major rain event will occur and combine with the artificial rise to create flood conditions or inland drainage problems.
“Any flood event is significant to those who experience it. We are asked to accept this risk for the promise of additional sandbar acreages so small it could be created with dozers and draglines, or for the promise pallid sturgeon might spawn. The inadequate claims for species improvements do not justify the far-reaching risk of these proposals. A cost-benefit analysis of spring
rise proposals shows the threat of financial catastrophe to agricultural interests far outweighs any species’ benefits.
“Consequently, of the six alternatives under consideration, we must support the Current Water Control Plan as the option of choice. Agriculture should not have to labor under the burden or accept the risk of any adverse consequences resulting from proposals based on speculation and producing negligible or indefinite results. Our coalition urges the Corps to continue with
the Current Water Control Plan.”