Historically, the nation's barges have transported much of the nation's coal. In fact, barges are second only behind rail for moving the nation's primary energy source to the power plants that use it. But in June, the EPA put out a new rule to cut carbon emissions by thirty percent by 2030. The rule's impact on power plants is direct. But what about the impact on the barge industry?
The U.S. Senate passed the first legislation authorizing infrastructure upgrades on the nation’s waterways since 2007, including improvements to locks and dams along the Mississippi River.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act passed 91-7 Thursday, sending the bill to the president. The House passed the measure Tuesday on a 412-4 vote.
The 34 projects authorized by the omnibus legislation will cost an estimated $12.3 billion. Missouri's and Illinois’ senators all voted for the bill. It includes several projects that directly affect this area.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Missouri River Cities and Town Initiative director Colin Wellenkamp speak at the Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals conference. The group's conference took place at the Union Station Hotel in Downtown St. Louis.
A major river commerce group endorsed a plan Tuesday to increase container-on-barge traffic on the Mississippi River.
The Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals Association supports shipping goods in containers on barges up and down the Mississippi River. That’s seen as an alternative to using trucks or rail. The group made the announcement at its annual conference in St. Louis.
Members of the barge shipping industry are on Capitol Hill today, asking Congress to raise the taxes they pay for fuel.
Shippers support a plan that would increase the fuel tax they pay from 20 cents per-gallon to 29 cents per-gallon of diesel fuel. The extra money would be used to fund improvements to locks and dams, some of which are more than 70 years old.
Earlier this year shippers feared that the worst drought in decades would slam the brakes on the billion dollar barge shipping industry, but recent heavy rains and snow have raised water levels on the drought starved Mississippi River.
Even though shippers are back to carrying normal loads, American Waterways Operators spokeswoman Ann McCulluh says the industry remains anxious about the future.
“You can bet that we will be watching the forecast, watching the water levels very carefully,” McCulluh said.
The barge industry again raised concerns Wednesday about the impact low water levels on the Mississippi River will have on shipping.
According to a new report from American Waterways Operators, low water could affect more than 8,000 jobs along the river. The group's spokeswoman, Ann McCulloch, says the situation isn't expected to improve any time soon.
"We're definitely worried about the immediate impact if commerce is severely impaired," said McCulloch. "We're at that stage already and at this point it can only get worse."