MCE Supports Mississippi River Restoration

Jim Karpowicz

By Jim Karpowicz

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) is proud to support the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative Act (MRRRI). Introduced on June 26, 2021, the bill is sponsored by Minnesota Representative Betty McCullum and co-sponsored by Missouri Representative Cori Bush. The bill would provide the means to protect drinking water supplies, build resilience to flooding caused by climate change, and protect and restore wildlife habitat throughout the river corridor. It would also provide dedicated funding to communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities, mitigating some of the damage suffered by these communities from environmental degradation.

MRRRI would address many systemic problems that plague the Mississippi River.

One strength of this proposed legislation is that it is non-regulatory. This means that no new laws would be created and no fines or penalties would be imposed. The bill creates grant opportunities for states, cities, tribes and nonprofit organizations to address environmental problems head on. It backs up the concept of environmental restoration, empowers communities to propose action and provides them with the funding and resources to get it done.

The model for this bill is not without precedent – the U.S Environmental Protection Agency would coordinate the program, making sure the latest science is used to base its restoration efforts. This model for a large interstate ecological restoration project is currently being used in the Everglades Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay Project, the Puget Sound Partnership and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It’s long overdue for one of our greatest natural resources, the Mississippi River, to have a restoration program of its own: well-funded, non-partisan, science-based, and with an eye towards the future.

Equality and justice are a strong focus of the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative. Thirty-five percent of all MRRRI funding is to be directed toward these focuses. The burden of flooding is not shared equally by all communities along the Mississippi River. Those burdens will become more difficult as we experience the results of climate change. This legislation would ensure that those burdens are mitigated proportately, and that restoration and resiliency efforts would be prioritized to communities of color and those economically disadvantaged.

A good first step for someone looking to support this effort is to contact the MRRRI bill sponsors, Rep. McCullum and Rep. Bush, to inform them of your support. A good second step is to stay up to date on the progress of MRRRI and other advocacy opportunities by signing up for the MCE email alerts at www.moenvironment.org/signup-elerts