Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

Mr. Speaker, the Sabine-Neches Riverway between Texas and Louisiana is the main shipping channel for two Texas ports in Beaumont and Port Arthur. These are energy ports and military displacement ports.

One-third of the military cargo going to and from Iraq and Afghanistan goes through this channel. The port of Beaumont has already loaded or unloaded more pieces of military cargo than any other commercial port in the United States. The port also is lined with numerous petrochemical plants and refineries. Shipments of oil, jet fuel, and liquefied natural gas enter the United States through this channel. Eleven percent of the Nation's gasoline goes through this port.

But there is a problem. The Corps of Engineers does not have enough money to keep the channel dredged, so silt is creeping into the channel, ships are now having to travel the riverway without being fully loaded or they will drag bottom. To keep from dragging bottom, ships are now being loaded with one foot less amount of energy or fuel. One foot difference costs Americans $30 million a year in gasoline prices, or 3 cents a gallon more.

The channel must be dredged or our energy situation will suffer and the consumer will pay more for gasoline. The channel must be dredged for strategic reasons so that we can get our troops the military equipment they deserve.

Congress just authorized $23 billion of foreign aid. Maybe the Sabine-Neches Riverway Authority needs to apply for this foreign aid to get the more than $13 million it needs to maintain this American channel. Mr. Speaker, this ought not to be.