Friday, November 30, 2012

Mississippi River shipping interests cry for help

Barge, shipping and business organizations including the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute asked President Obama to declare an emergency in the heartland this week, calling for "immediate assistance in averting an economic catastrophe" because near-record-low water levels have drastically slowed Mississippi River barge traffic and part of the river may have to be closed to barges. The shallow water is  prompting shippers to take their business off the river and find alternatives; they want Obama to order the Army Corps of Engineers to release more water from the Missouri River to avoid closure of the Mississippi from St Louis to Cairo, Ill., where the larger Ohio River joins it. (Associated Press photo)

Alan Bjerga of Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the Corps is taking heat for mismanagement of the Missouri-Mississippi river system even as lawmakers cede that the worst drought in five decades and seasonal dryness has changed much about the landscape of national commerce. Barges on the Mississippi handle about 60 percent of the nation’s grain exports entering the Gulf of Mexico through New Orleans, as well as 22 percent of its petroleum and 20 percent of its coal. (Read more)

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