Cantwell Accepts Legislator of the Year Award, Outlines Key Priorities for Waterways Opportunities, Economic Development

Cantwell: “Everywhere from right here in Vancouver, to the outskirts of Spokane, to some of our smallest communities, everyone gets how interdependent and dependent we are on our waterways.”

VANCOUVER, WA – Today, the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association honored U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) as their “Legislator of the Year” for her commitment to navigation, freight mobility and economic development in the Pacific Northwest. In particular, the Association lauded Cantwell’s accomplishments on harbor and port infrastructure improvements and freight transportation.

In her address to the conference, the Senator highlighted recent successes that will be felt locally in communities that depend on their waterways like Ilwaco, Seattle, Chinook, and Tukwila. She also thanked the association for their partnership on critical issues to the region.

Cantwell noted that despite recent achievements there is still much to be done to unlock the full potential of the region’s waterways. Maintaining a competitive advantage in trade, further investment in salmon restoration and icebreaking capacity, and modernizing the Columbia River Treaty were all areas the Senator identified as crucial priorities for the Pacific Northwest.

“It truly is an honor because so many of you put your heart and soul into these efforts and you want to see good results. I am so happy to have worked with you on the freight act,” said Cantwell. “We are a trading region and we want to continue that but we need to continue it in the right, safe and secure way.”

“We are so pleased to honor Senator Cantwell as our 2016 Legislator of the Year,” stated Kristin Meira, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association. “She has been a longtime partner and an outstanding champion for navigation and economic development in our region. We applaud and appreciate her work to support freight transportation and infrastructure, and economic development throughout the Northwest and the nation.”

Senator Cantwell’s record reflects her belief that the Pacific Northwest’s waterways are crucial for the region’s growth.  Last week, after years of working closely with the State Department and local stakeholders, she announced that the U.S. was finally prepared to begin negotiations to modernize the Columbia River Treaty. 

In September, the Senator worked with her colleagues from the Pacific Northwest to push for two waterways-focused provisions to be included in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which successfully passed the Senate. The provisions would help American harbors stay competitive internationally and boost salmon recovery.

Last year, a Cantwell championed the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Project Program as part of the FAST Act. The program recently brought $50 million to Washington State to support projects in Seattle and Tukwila. Oregon’s Coos Bay Rail Line also received $11 million as part of the project.

Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA) is a non-profit trade association that advocates for federal policies and funding in support of regional economic development. PNWA is a collaboration of ports, businesses, public agencies and individuals who combine their economic and political strength in support of navigation, energy, trade and economic development throughout the Pacific Northwest.

A transcript of today’s speech can be found here.


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