Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, of Missouri, is threatening to block President Barack Obama's choice for Environmental Protection Agency administrator until plans are resolved for a long-stalled levee project in southeast Missouri.
Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is joining two Republican colleagues in calling for federal agencies to move ahead with plans to close a 1,500-foot gap in a southeast Missouri levee, a project long delayed over environmental concerns.
McCaskill sent a letter in mid-December to the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, calling uncertainty and delays in the project "unacceptable."
The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded contracts to three firms for work to repair the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri, a levee intentionally breached by the corps at the height of spring flooding in 2011.
Six levee, drainage and road districts in northwest Missouri will receive a total of about $1.2 million in community development block grants to help repair damage from flooding along the Missouri River. Gov. Jay Nixon's office said in a release that the six districts are located in Atchison and Holt counties.
Levee districts applied for the grants to cover either the 20 percent local cost share required under the Army Corps of Engineers' maintenance program, or for the entire cost if the levee district is not part of the Corps' system.
Governor Jay Nixon met with Missouri Levee and Drainage District members in Columbia this weekend. He and other state and federal officials responded to over eight months of questions from farmers and others on how Missouri’s waterways will be protected from future massive flooding. This is the first time a Missouri governor attended an annual levee district association meeting in over 15 years, and with good reason, as Governor Nixon addressed the standing room only crowd, he branded 2011: “the year of natural disasters.”