Congressman Markwayne Mullin visited the Port of Catoosa Friday to discuss the local impact of a water resources act he worked on.
Mullin is the only Oklahoman on the House of Representatives' Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He helped push the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) through the House with only three dissenting votes. The Senate has also voted to approve the measure.
"In a time when partisanship is alive and well in D.C., this came through with bipartisan support, overwhelming bipartisan support," Mullin said. He explained that the House's draft of the act does not include any earmarks. It is meant to benefit the nation's economy through its waterways.
The act addresses rivers, dams, ports, and other infrastructure. It is the most recent water resources bill since 2007.
WRRDA cuts $12 billion of older, reportedly inactive, projects to waterways. Mullin explained that some Corps of Engineers projects were lasting 15 or more years. The act caps the federal cost of Corps feasibility studies to $3 million. It also limits feasibility studies to three years.
WRRDA allows the Corps of Engineers to work with states and industries for projects.
The act includes $63 million for 20 major projects. Mullin said that includes improving locks on rivers. He said currently, some locks have a 50 percent chance of malfunctioning in the next several years. He said a broken lock could cost Oklahomans $2 million per day.
"It's going to create jobs," Mullin said.
Mullin said the act authorizes Cherokee Nation to build its hydroelectric dam that has been in the works for years. He said Cherokee Nation will then be able to sell its energy. Cherokee Nation told Channel 8 it could still be some time before any energy production happens. However, the tribe thanked Mullin and Senator Jim Inhofe for pushing the measure forward.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett attended the press conference at the Port of Catoosa. He said oil exports at the port are doing good things for the local economy.
"The mission here at the port is job creation, job support, industrial expansion, all the great things that make our collective communities in northeastern Oklahoma grow, prosper, and look to the stars for the future," Bartlett said.
Mullin said the House and Senate are planning to conference on the act.
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