Representative Randy Asbury serves District 22 in the Missouri House of Representatives and also is the executive director of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River. He told those in attendance at the Rain, Rivers and Resources – Managing Missouri's Rivers panel at the Missouri Governor's Conference on Agriculture that during the last 10 years we've seen the river operations and river focus move from what he would consider to be a more economic oriented river to a more environmentally oriented river. Asbury says that has created a great disparity in the appropriation funding that is coming from Washington, D.C. into the Missouri River basin.
"Right now we have generally speaking, since Fiscal Year '06 about $69 to $70 million per year influx of money for environmental recover efforts for three endangered species as opposed to about $6 million for operations and maintenance," Asbury said. "So that disparity has created a distinct disadvantage for the economic interests on the river; and as that continues to go further the infrastructure will decline and lose its value and the stress will be even greater."
Asbury says that making the economic aspects a priority for the river is dependent on education of the Congressional Delegation, whether in Missouri or other states.
"Infrastructure, which is needed whether it be flood control or navigation is important for agriculture and important to our rural communities," Asbury said. "Unless Congress understands that and funds that appropriately and in a more balanced level then we will continue to see this decline in funding for economic interests. Not to take away from the needs of the environmental groups or the environment itself, but there needs to be a balanced approach in this. The pendulum has swung and we need to bring it back to the middle; the only people that can change that will be our appropriators in Washington, D.C."
To listen to an interview with Representative Asbury use the audio player on this page.