On July 10, Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana’s 2nd District introduced the DREDGE Act of 2012 – Dredging for Restoration and Economic Development for Global Exports. The bill would authorize deepening the present 47-foot Mississippi River channel to 50 feet, and create a pilot project to promote the rebuilding of wetlands using maintenance material from the river.
“The Mississippi River is undoubtedly the most important river in the United States,” said Congressman Richmond. “Its proximity to the Panama Canal is vital to our nation’s economy and critical to supporting the President’s goal of doubling America’s exports. With the introduction of the DREDGE Act of 2012, we are preparing for the future while strengthening our wetland restoration efforts. By deepening the Mississippi River, we continue to remain effective and competitive in the global market, while preparing the state of Louisiana to capitalize on an extremely valuable asset, our ports.”
In addition to deepening the Mississippi River, the DREDGE Act of 2012 calls for greater accountability concerning sediment disposal from dredging. This legislation directs the Corps to install a pump-out site in the Southwest Pass so that the sediment is no longer wasted and is instead used to rebuild the wetlands.
“My legislation also creates a pilot project to study the potential cost savings of using sediment dredged to rebuild wetlands instead of simply dumping it in the ocean,” said Congressman Richmond. “Currently, dredges working in the lower Southwest Pass dump sediment, the life blood of our wetlands, into the Gulf of Mexico. Estimates show that by redirecting all of the sediment dredged in the Southwest Pass, we can create approximately 775 acres of wetlands per year.”
The proposed legislation has received letters of support from the Port of New Orleans, St. James Stevedoring Company LLC, the Big River Coalition, and the New Orleans-Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association. Organizations supporting the legislation include the Crescent River Port Pilots Association, the Associated Branch Pilots, the Port of South Louisiana and the Port of Greater Baton Rouge.