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American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

AAPA, WCI applaud water development appropriation

The bill supports the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation program and Harbor Maintenance Tax-funded work.

   The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) and Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) are applauding Thursday’s passage of the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. 
   The legislation bundles three of the 12 fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills. AAPA said this is the first time since 2004 that the Energy and Water Development appropriation was passed before the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. The House passed the FY2019 Conference Report to accompany HR 5895 Thursday by a vote of 337 to 20. It passed in the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 92 to 5. The measure now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for signature into law.
   “We very much appreciate the committees’ leadership for recognizing the nexus between water resources development and economic prosperity,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO. “Federal investments in navigation-related infrastructure are an essential and effective utilization of limited resources, paying dividends through increased trade and international competitiveness, sustainable job creation and more than $320 billion annually in federal, state and local tax revenues.”
   The Energy and Water Development appropriation funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation program, including deep-draft navigation construction and maintenance. The appropriations bill also includes $1.54 billion for Harbor Maintenance Tax-funded work.
   “The bill also increases funding amounts and allows new starts in both the Corp of Engineers’ investigations and construction accounts. Furthermore, it funds Donor and Energy Transfer ports at $50 million, the full amount authorized for the program and the amount AAPA requested in its August letter to House and Senate conference committee leaders in support of the Corps’ navigation program funding,” AAPA said.
   WCI said, “FY19 appropriations funding levels for the Corps’ Civil Works program is $6.99 billion, up 46.08 percent from the administration’s request of $4.79 billion. This is the fourth consecutive year that Congress has increased funding for the Corps.”
   WCI hailed funding for Operations & Maintenance as a “record $3.74 billion, up 24.67 percent from the administration’s request of $3 billion. Inland Waterways Trust Fund funding in FY19 is $326.5 million, up 832.86 percent from the administration’s request of $35 million to fund only the Olmsted Locks and Dam project on the Ohio River.”
  WCI said it also was pleased with the House’s unanimous approval Thursday of legislation that includes the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA), designed to improve the nation’s harbors, ports and waterways.
   “With the dedication of the Olmsted Locks and Dam project last month, strong funding for the Corps in fiscal year 2019 and a potential final WRDA bill in 2018, the inland waterways’ many beneficiaries and the U.S. economy have much to celebrate,” said WCI President and CEO Mike Toohey.  
   One piece of the legislation authorizes locally driven water transportation and resources infrastructure improvements, which will be carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers. WRDA also addresses storm water, waste water and drinking water infrastructure and hydropower development.
   Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said the bill “invests in the ports, locks and dams, inland waterways, flood protection and other infrastructure that makes America more competition and protects our communities, while building upon reforms to the Army Corps of Engineers to continue improving project delivery.”
   While applauding his colleagues for their “good bipartisan work,” Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., a ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he was “disappointed that the bill does not include a critical provision that would ensure that funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are used only for harbor maintenance and not for unrelated government spending. I will continue to fight for a permanent fix to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.”
   Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves, R-La., said Hurricane Florence served as a reminder of “how critically important it is to ensure our communities’ resiliency.”
   “This bill, together with the House-passed Disaster Reform and Recovery Act begins shifting from reactive, red tape, endless studies and bureaucratic delays to proactively leaning forward, building projects, improving the resilience of our communities, improving our ports and navigation channels and restoring our coastal ecosystems,” Graves said. 

Kim Link-Wills, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.

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