Sen. Franken to visit Worthington today

WORTHINGTON – U.S. Senator Al Franken will be in southwest Minnesota this afternoon to meet with local leaders and economic development officials about water and renewable fuel standards.

The senator will be at the Worthington Fire Hall at 2:15 p.m. to discuss the efforts being made to advance the Lewis and Clark Rural Water Project. According to a press release from Franken’s office, he has championed the project since coming to the senate in 2009. He states the local governments have already done their part to complete the project that will bring much-needed water, jobs and economic development to the region.

Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and 20 local members have pre-paid 100 percent of the non-federal cost share -- a combined amount close to $154 million. Federal grant funds for construction of the project were authorized in the Lewis & Clark Rural Water System Act that became law in July 2000. The Act authorized federal grant funds in the amount of $213 million. Each year the Bureau of Reclamation adjusts the remaining federal funding ceiling for inflation and other cost factors. Unfortunately, recent federal funding has not been enough to even cover the inflation let alone allow the project to make any meaningful construction progress.

The recently-passed federal budget bill contains $3.2 million specifically for the Lewis & Clark project and an additional $27 million for which Lewis & Clark can compete.

After his session in Worthington, Franken will head to Luverne to speak with members of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and other farm leaders to discuss the renewable fuel standards and his efforts to pass a new five-year Farm Bill. That meeting is at 4 p.m. at the Blue Mound Banquet Hall.

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