WASHINGTON (6/10/14) — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s 'Freedom to Fish' provision was signed into law today by the President.The measure is included in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, which passed the Senate and House in May.The provision, which was secured by Senator McConnell, institutes a “permanent ban” on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ ability to enforce any attempt to restrict public access to fish the tailwaters of the Barkley and Wolf Creek Dams in Kentucky – some of the most popular fishing areas in the state - by giving states the ability to determine how best to regulate public access to these areas. The language also prohibits the Army Corps from ever constructing physical barriers to these public areas or even attempting to implement any kind of a restricted area using signs in the Cumberland River basin for four years following enactment of WRRDA.“This is outstanding news for the thousands of Kentuckians and fishing enthusiasts from far away who have enjoyed the pleasure of fishing the tailwaters below Lake Barkley and Wolf Creek dams along the Cumberland River,” Senator McConnell said. “My measure will permanently prevent the Obama Administration from blocking fishing access to the area, which would have hurt tourism in the area and depressed the local economy.”

Whitfield Praises Successful Passage of Water Resources Bill
May 20, 2014 Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, is pleased to announce passage in the House of Representatives of the House and Senate conference agreement for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) by a vote of 412 to 4.  WRRDA is a fiscally responsible, long-term bill that authorizes all federal water related projects and policies while making much needed reforms across the entire system.Waterways are essential to the economy in Kentucky and nationally.  According to a study recently released by the American Maritime Partnership, Kentucky now ranks fifth in the nation in waterways, with over 13,000 jobs in the industry and an economic impact of over the $2.7 billion annually.   It is for this reason that enactment of this legislation, that seeks to strengthen our inland waterways and water infrastructure, is so important.  Included in WRRDA was much of Congressman Whitfield’s bill, H.R. 1149, the Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency and Environment Act of 2013 (WAVE 4).  WAVE 4 seeks to prioritize the completion of navigation projects across the entire inland waterways system, and improve and reform the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project management and project delivery methods.  WAVE 4 would also preserve the Inland Waterways Trust Fund by addressing needed changes to the current funding mechanism and reform the current project cost share formulaWhitfield has been actively involved in the legislative process on WRRDA, advocating for many priorities important to constituents of the First District.  Earlier this year, he was joined by thirty-nine additional bipartisan Members of the House of Representatives in sending a letter to the Members of the WRRDA Conference Committee encouraging them to quickly reach an agreement on the legislation.   After receiving such overwhelming bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, Whitfield remains encouraged that the Senate will also quickly pass the conference agreement and it can be signed into law.Notable inclusions in this legislation Whitfield advocated for include:Extension of the Freedom to Fish Act;Key pieces of Whitfield’s bipartisan Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment Act  (WAVE 4) that would ensure America’s inland waterway system can meet the current and future demands of the 21st century economy;Funding mechanism for inland waterways, small ports and harbors dredging and maintenance; andIncrease in authorization for the Paducah Flood Wall project.“I am pleased the issues surrounding this extremely important legislation have now been resolved and the final agreement has passed the House of Representatives,” said Whitfield. “The passage of WRRDA will greatly benefit Kentuckians in many ways. It is very good to know Congress can effectively work out differences and reach an agreement to serve the American people.”