Congressman Markwayne Mullin met with area leaders Friday at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa to speak about the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).
“The legislation received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, pending approval in the Senate,” Mullin said.
“Our water infrastructure is linked to the health of our economy,” said Mullin. “If we do not have adequate infrastructure, we cannot move our commerce and we cannot protect our jobs. Oklahoma’s water infrastructure alone plays a critical role in global competition. With the McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS), Oklahoma is connected to the rest of the nation and the world.”
Mullin spoke about the impact the law could make on the Port, one of the nation’s largest inland waterways.
Mullin said the bill would eliminate approximately $4 billion in spending, streamlining efforts to improve waterways across the country.
WRRDA allows the books to be cleared of previously authorized funding for projects that are old and unwarranted, and redirects these funds towards critical infrastructure needs, Mullin said.
Additionally, WRRDA increases efficiency through consolidation and hard deadlines of Corps of Engineers studies, he said.
The bill also has unique sunset features to insure the projects are completed in a timely manner to save resources, according to Mullin.
Additionally, the bill includes no earmarks, Mullin said.
The act will address other issues facing the Port, including previous legislation requiring waterways to be closed during off peak usage, according to Mullin.
Every time a lock on the river is closed, it has an economic impact of $2 million a day, Mullin said.
The Port serves 80 private industries, and employs 7,500 with an annual payroll of $350 million.
Each year, 5.5 million tons of goods are transported by barge, enough to fill 240,000 trucks.
This legislation will assist the Port, making sure it is open for business year around and can meet the demands of local business, according to Mullin.
“WRRDA not only means an empowered economy with less federal regulation, but it also means jobs for our fellow Americans,” said Mullin. “As a member of Congress who is actually creating jobs in the private sector, this is huge. Thirteen million jobs depend on water infrastructure. WRRDA is pro-business legislation that will partner with the private sector and result in greater efficiency and accountability.”