News Releases

Murray Secures Funding for Southwest Washington in Energy Bill

Nov 19 2003

Funding for Columbia River Dredging, Lower Columbia Estuary Restoration, Port of Chinook going to President to become law

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray has secured important funding for Southwest Washington environmental and economic development improvements in the fiscal year 2004 Energy & Water Appropriations conference report. The bill passed both chambers of Congress today and is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

Murray secured $3.5 million in the bill to help dredge the Columbia River from Portland to the mouth of the river. The dredging effort, led by the Army Corps of Engineers, will enable larger shipping traffic to move up the Columbia, thereby increasing the capacity for exports and creating more jobs and economic development in Southwest Washington. The Ports of Vancouver, Longview, Woodland, Kalama, St. Helens, and Portland are supporting the dredging. Murray secured $5 million in the original Senate version of the bill and the House, in its budget, provided $2 million for the same project. The final figure in the conference report is $3.5 million.

The funding for Columbia River dredging is especially significant considering the President’s 2004 budget request for the entire Army Corps of Engineers was $445 million less than the current fiscal year budget. Murray worked closely with her Republican colleague, Chairman Pete Domenici and the ranking Democrat, Senator Harry Reid, in the successful effort to restore $233 million to the Corps’ budget. This increase made possible many Northwest funding priorities that were not in the President’s budget.

“Increasing mobility along the Columbia River will mean more jobs and economic development for our region. I am proud to have secured this critical funding in the Senate and I will continue to work to support economic growth in Southwest Washington and across our state,” Murray said.

Murray also secured $2 million for the Lower Columbia Estuary project to help restore salmon runs in the Columbia River Basin. These federal funds will go toward habitat restoration projects in the estuary which is an important ecosystem for all Basin salmon prior to migrating out to the ocean.

“In Southwest Washington, salmon are part of our culture, our heritage, our recreation and our economy,” Murray said. “We have asked a great deal of our region in protecting and restoring salmon runs. I am pleased to have helped provide this federal funding to support the progress of local communities.”

At Murray’s request the bill also contains $500,000 for dredging the Port of Chinook and $350,000 for dredging at the nearby Port of Ilwaco. Senator Murray assured the Port of Chinook would remain open during this fall and winter’s fishing season by convincing the Corps’ to reprogram current year funds to begin immediate dredging. The new funds will continue the work.