Today, the White House virtually convened senior government officials and industry leaders in transportation logistics to discuss U.S. government action to address historically low water levels along the Mississippi River. The meeting included representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Throughout the Mississippi River basin, months of extreme drought have reduced water levels to extremely low thresholds, with minimal rain in the forecast. In the meeting, CEOs provided an overview of the industries, commodities, and jobs that rely every day on the Mississippi River and its waterways. Both sides discussed the impacts of low water on barge transportation and the implications for agricultural shippers, energy transportation, and other critical goods movement. Finally, both industry and government officials discussed actions underway to maintain safe and steady navigation of the river system, including around-the-clock work by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Coast Guard to dredge river channels to adequate depths, employ safety limitations on waterway access, and maintain navigational positioning signals and buoy markings. Additionally, agricultural shippers have support available through USDA, including the ability to work with grain elevators and warehouses to license emergency and temporary storage space for commodities deemed storable by the Agricultural Marketing Service. Industry leaders thanked the federal agencies for their high level of communication and collaboration.
Participants also discussed how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including today’s announcement by the Department of Transportation of $703 million in Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) awards, are bolstering the long-term resilience and capacity of our nation’s waterways, such as those on the Mississippi. In total, over $4 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be invested toward the improved operations and maintenance of U.S. ports and waterways.
The meeting concluded with all sides agreeing to continue close coordination and communication across government and industry to maintain the smooth functioning of the Mississippi River system while minimizing disruptions to commerce.