The U-S House of Representatives reaffirmed its desire to prohibit funding for two studies concerning the Missouri River last week.  Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with Randy Asbury, Executive Director of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River:

Randy Asbury

Press Release from the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River

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.