Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement today regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announcement that it will not increase the releases of Missouri River water to aid Mississippi River navigation. The Corps’ announcement is in response to requests from lawmakers and groups to aid Mississippi River navigation by authorizing the unprecedented release of water from the Missouri River’s dams and reservoirs.
“I am pleased that the Corps followed the law and rejected the demand to unlawfully increase flows from the Missouri River reservoirs specifically for the benefit of Mississippi River navigation interests,” said Thune. “The low water levels and harsh drought conditions that have occurred in our region have already had a significant negative impact on the people and businesses along the Missouri River. Further releases by the Corps would only have exacerbated the drought-related conditions.”
On November 30, 2012, Senator Thune spearheaded a letter to President Obama, Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate. The letter, sent with members of the South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, and Montana delegations, urged the president to deny requests to release water from the Missouri River reservoirs to aid Mississippi River navigation. Senator Thune followed-up on his letter with a call to Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy on December 6, 2012, underscoring the harmful impacts of releasing water from the Missouri River.
The formal response from the Corps of Engineers can be viewed here.