News Releases

Murray Stands Up for Columbia River Channel Deepening

Apr 20 2004

Why is the Bush Administration Funding an Unapproved Project in Texas But Leaving the Columbia River High and Dry, Murray asks
Army Corps of Engineers

Senator again pushes for federal funding of critical economic development project


(Washington, D.C.) -- U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) today asked Bush Administration officials why a dredging project in Texas that has not been approved by the Army Corps of Engineers got funding in the President’s FY2005 budget while Washington state’s Columbia River Channel deepening project was left high and dry despite the Corps’ completion of all relevant studies.

At a hearing of the Senate’s Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Engineers LTG Robert B. Flowers acknowledged that all studies for the Columbia River project have been completed, but the Administration has not requested a dime for the project. However, Flowers acknowledged that a channel improvement project at Brazos Island Harbor in Texas was funded in the President’s budget even though it has not been fully studied by the Corps. While not taking a position on the Texas project, Murray nonetheless raised serious concerns about funding process.

“It seems clear that for projects this Administration deems priorities, money is found, but for some reason they continue to ignore the Columbia River project,” Murray said. “The Administration must put resources behind their rhetoric and stop playing games with the budget.”

Bush Administration Funded Unapproved Project in Texas, But Denied Funding to Fully-Approved Columbia River Channel Deepening

Columbia River Channel Deepening Texas – Brazos Island Harbor Project
Reconnaissance Study Complete? Yes No
Feasibility Study Complete? Yes No
Authorized by Congress? Yes No
Chief of Engineers Report Complete? Yes No
Funding in the Administration’s Budget $0 $9.5 million for construction

Senator Murray has made channel deepening one of her highest priorities because of its enormous impact for job creation and economic competitiveness. Although Murray successfully fought to provide $3.5 million last year and $10 million over the past five years for the project, the Bush Administration recommended no funding again this year. While the Administration acknowledged the need for funding by including a line titled “Columbia River Channel Improvements” in the President’s budget, the dollar amount at the end of the line was once again zero. At today’s hearing, Murray displayed that page of the President’s budget.

Last month Murray sent a bipartisan letter with her Senate colleagues from Washington, Oregon and Idaho asking the Senate Appropriations committee to give channel deepening the funding it deserves.

“Federal funding plays a critical role in the long term success of this important economic project,” Murray said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in a continuing effort to see this important effort through.”

Chart Source: The President’s FY 2005 Budget and answers provided to Senator Murray by Army Corps of Engineers leadership at 4/20/04 hearing.