The US House of Representative has passed legislation that would provide harbor maintenance for small ports along Oregon’s coast. A lack of federal funds has led to a major backlog on dredging and maintenance projects, threatening the economy of several cities.
Representative Peter DeFazio is one of 47 co-sponsors of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013. He spoke on the House floor Wednesday.
DeFazio: “The Corps of Engineers has stopped dredging all small ports. Tell you what, that kind of a disaster in my state and it’s a disaster all around the country. I have one port where they have to take the boats out of the water onto a dock. And they’re having trouble even now getting into that port at high tide to get the boats up onto the dock. I have other ports that are shoaling in, becoming dangerous… We’re going to lose lives.”
The ports of Coos Bay and Port Orford are among those in need of maintenance. In addition to making funds available, the bill also streamlines the environmental approval process for such projects, provisions DeFazio opposes. The Congressman says he will continue to fight the “roll back of environmental protections” as the legislation moves forward.
The Senate passed similar legislation earlier this year. The two bills will have to be reconciled before going to the President.