Maintain Reliability of Navigation
America’s waterways are vital links for the safe, reliable and efficient movement of freight. Every year, barges safely and efficiently carry almost 800 million tons of cargo, including the building blocks of the U.S. economy such as grain, petroleum, coal and chemicals. However, efforts to prevent the spread of invasive species, including Asian carp, have the potential to impact both the ecosystem and economy by disrupting these vital transportation links.
For more than a decade, the tugboat, towboat and barge industry has worked in partnership with key federal agencies and stakeholder groups to develop long-term solutions to prevent the spread of invasive species while maintaining the uninterrupted flow of commercial navigation.
Interruptions to commerce will adversely impact the billions of dollars of products transported on the waterways—not to mention the thousands of Americans, from Indiana and Illinois to Louisiana and Pennsylvania, who depend on the waterways for their jobs and livelihoods. Disruption of these systems could shift bulk commodities to less fuel- and cost-efficient transportation modes. Modal shifts cost money—not only for the American producers and businesses that rely on barge transportation, but for the American consumers who will feel the pinch in their grocery and energy bills. The nation would also face increased road infrastructure costs, air pollution, and traffic fatalities.
AWO is committed to working with other stakeholders and the Congressional committees of jurisdiction on legislative proposals to develop the most effective and workable long-term invasive species management policies for the waterways. Congress needs to maintain careful oversight in order to ensure that projects under consideration for invasive species control safely maintain the efficient movement of waterborne commerce, and ensure that future projects do not threaten funding for other important waterway infrastructure projects on the Illinois River and around the nation.