Senate passes resolution blocking Army Corps restrictions on Cumberland River dams

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WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander announced Saturday the Senate passed the budget resolution amendment he sponsored with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senators Bob Corker and Rand Paul that would allow Congress to pass legislation prohibiting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from implementing proposed fishing restriction on the Cumberland River.


“This amendment sends a clear message to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: that it should stop wasting $2.6 million in taxpayer money enforcing these unnecessary and unreasonable fishing restrictions,” Alexander said. “Instead, the Corps should work with the wildlife agencies in Tennessee and Kentucky to develop a sensible plan to promote public safety when water is spilling through the dam.”


Alexander’s amendment opposes a $2.6 million Corps plan to erect physical barriers restricting access to tailwaters fishing areas below 10 dams on the Cumberland River in Tennessee and Kentucky. The senator has asked the Corps to explore alternatives – such as signs, sirens and lights – and work with wildlife agencies in Tennessee and Kentucky to satisfy safety and regulatory requirements to improve safety.


Alexander continued, “The tailwaters are only dangerous when the water is spilling through the dam, which on average is about 20 percent of the time. Closing off the tailwaters 100 percent of the time would be like keeping the gate down at the railroad crossing 100 percent of the time. The track isn’t dangerous when the train isn’t coming, and the tailwaters aren’t dangerous when the water isn’t spilling through the dam.”


In addition to various legislative efforts, Alexander has also held several discussions with Corps officials, including Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, whom he encouraged to reconsider the $2.6 million expenditure in light of the sequester’s automatic spending cuts.

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