By Trish Jackson, Save the River!
After months of study, and encouragement from legions of Save The River! members and New York residents, New York Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer and Representatives John McHugh, James Walsh and Louise Slaughter have all pledged to fight the Corps of Engineers plans for Seaway expansion. They will attempt to strike the $2 million earmarked for a feasibility study from a congressional spending bill soon to reach the House floor.
The lawmakers agree that the environmental damage of the Corps’ project would far outweigh any economic benefit to New York’s North Country. “The viability of our vital tourism industry, the generation of economically stimulating hydropower, and the untold enjoyment that the St. Lawrence provides derives less from the shipping that the river supports than the delicate environment it nurtures,” said congressman McHugh.
Senator Clinton added “We do not need to wait years and spend tens of millions of dollars for the Army Corps of Engineers to tell us what we already know: deepening and altering the St. Lawrence Seaway to accommodate larger ships that cannot now navigate the system is simply the wrong plan for the St. Lawrence River, and the wrong plan for the North Country.”
The first step for Mr. McHugh is the crafting of an amendment seeking to remove the $2 million funding for the study currently contained in the fiscal year 2003 House Appropriations bill. To support this effort, Mr. McHugh, Ms. Slaughter and Mr. Walsh sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to all 435 members of The House of Representatives asking for their support to delete the $2 million earmarked for the Great Lakes Navigation System review in the fiscal year 2003 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.
Concurrently, Mr. McHugh and Senator Clinton will attempt to build a coalition of like-minded lawmakers to support this initiative. Because the Seaway study is already included in both the House and Senate versions of the spending bill, as well as the President’s budget request, they face a difficult fight. And all the 2003 spending bills may be folded into one large omnibus bill, leaving no opportunity for amendment. “Nevertheless, I have no intention of abandoning the higher interests of my district because the odds are long,” said Mr. McHugh.
Governor George Pataki, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin Crotty, state assemblyman Darrel Aubertine, Jefferson and St. Lawrence County Legislatures, and the Jefferson County Farm Bureau have all joined in opposition.
Visit www.savetheriver.org or call our office at 315-686-2010 for more information.