Casey Dives In: Deepening The Delaware

r1Senator Bob Casey seems to be taking a stand and—surprise!—that stand is happening in Your Delaware River, to begin a project in your city, employing the Army Corps of Engineers and local workers, during his election year. On Monday, Casey[‘s staff] penned a sorta-strongly-worded letter to Jacob Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, asking the White House to include a chunk of change that would go toward deepening the Delaware shipping channel “from 40 feet to 45 feet to accommodate larger vessels.”

Casey, Rep. Chaka Fattah, Senator Arlen Specter, Rep. Bob Brady (who, though has his John Hancock on the letter, is suspiciously missing from the press release) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz, the Nancy Pelosi of the East, claim the project “has the potential to create thousands of new jobs and generate over $1 billion in revenue over the life of the project.”

The budget in which they’d like said cash money: 2012.

Casey and pals hilariously don’t include the actual price of the project, but according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers overview, the project is expected to cost $277 million (two-thirds funded by the federal government, the rest by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority) in total when all’s said and done. That includes $7 million from a Senate energy and water bill secured by Senators Casey and Specter.

The Corps is all for the project, explaining how it’s technically been ongoing since the 1800s, when “the controlling depth of the Delaware River was 18 feet” and Union and Confederate soldiers had contests over who could touch the bottom and come back up first. It wasn’t until World War II that this section of the river reached its current 40-feet depth.

The Corps also find the times ripe for such a project, being that on November 17, Judge Sue L. Robinson of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware stopped legal action that would have ended the deepening project, which began on other sections of the Delaware last March and ended in September.

That motion was originally filed by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control against the Corps, with several Environmental Federations and other groups supporting the motion.

And while teachers’ unions don’t have the ability of benefiting (that we know of), the state of New Jersey is still sooooo mad about this. Bob Martin, Jersey’s Environmental Protection Commissioner has long been against such a project and has pointed to a case in which the Corps dumped “sediments” at a riverside disposal facility in Jersey this past August, which has been proven in the Army Corps’ own documents.

The Corps assure everyone that now, due to their own studies on the project, it’s environmentally sound, and safe. Delaware Riverkeeper says otherwise, even claiming independent scientists have thoroughly debunked these studies.

Among arguments for the deepening, some claim this project will make the Delaware a competitor with other waterways, such as the Panama Canal.

And when it comes to November 2012–assuming this, um, works–you can thank Your Bob Casey with a vote. Unless the U.S. economy still sucks at that point. Then we assume he’ll be leaving office in landslide fashion.

Image: Army Corps of Engineers

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