The Missouri River, a major tributary to the Mississippi River, is the subject of a multi-state controversy. U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-9) backed a plan to cut a $25 million Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS) from the remaining Fiscal Year 2011 budget calling it “redundant.” The amendment passed.
The study sought to determine whether the current uses of the Missouri River are the most fiscally beneficial for the surrounding states. The barge shipping industry claims that barge use of the River, which currently precludes any recreational usage, is necessary and should continue to take precedence. The states of North Dakota and Montana, however, claim that increasing demand for recreation and tourism on the River should take precendence over decreasing barge traffic.
While the budget debates rage on the health of our River is at stake. Cuts to the budget have real impacts and affect real people. This case represents a landmark decision about the proper use of a River, jobs available in at least three states and state and national economies. It is clear that the budget represents more than cold numbers.