By Ben Geman - 03/12/13 03:35 PM EDT
“And if in fact temperatures are warming — I know this is not our climate change meeting — but I think we can anticipate that we may end up having some challenges in terms of managing our waterways well, whether or not we can continue to use barges to move a lot of product out of the American heartland to ports around the world, that is going to depend on our infrastructure,” Obama said.
“So we are going to, in our budget, continue to push Congress to see if we can essentially deal with deferred maintenance,” he added in emphasizing the importance of waterway and port infrastructure.
The president touched on climate change very briefly during wide-ranging remarks about U.S. export and trade policy.
Last year’s major drought helped drop water to levels that created problems and risks for barge transit along the Mississippi, which carries large amounts of agricultural, petroleum and chemical products.
In early December, the American Waterways Operators and the Waterways Council Inc., in sounding the alarm about the need to remove rock pinnacles and other fixes, said that movement of $7 billion in goods was at risk in December and January alone.