, Port Arthur, Texas

May 22, 2013

Editorial: Sabine-Neches project passes major milestone

The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — The project to deepen the Sabine-Neches Waterway, a vital transportation route for crude oil, military equipment and 100,000 tons of cargo a year, passed a major milestone last week when the U.S. Senate approved the Water Resources Development Act.

The vast majority of Senators recognize the need for deepening the waterway from 40 to 48 feet and extending it 13 miles farther out into the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, the two senators from Texas, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, voted against the needs of Southeast Texas and the nation for political purposes they described in a press release as because the bill “failed to fix an incredibly ineffective system.”

We think we can count on more support from the Southeast Texas delegation in the House of Representatives. Ted Poe, R-Houston, who represented this area for a decade before redistricting moved Jefferson County into a new district, said he would continue to support this area’s efforts to expand the waterway. Our new representative, Randy Weber, R-Lake Jackson, is familiar with the project and has indicated his support.

Plans to deepen the waterway have been in the works for 14 years, and the Panama Canal expansion and ever-larger size of ships make the need to improve the nation’s fourth busiest waterway even more imperative. The project, expected to cost around $1.2 billion, would create 21,000 jobs over a 10-year period.

The expansion would be a catalyst for even more economic activity as imports would be enhanced because crude oil feedstock for the local refineries would be able to arrive in larger ships and a deeper channel would allow increased export activity, with growth in cargoes for commodities ranging from LNG to diesel fuel.

The work is not complete on getting our vital waterway deepened and expanded, but the Senate’s approval of the Water Act is a major milestone. The bill should receive a favorable vote in the House and the president’s signature because of its importance to this region, for its importance to the commerce of the state of Texas and for meeting the energy needs of the country.