• ITVI.USA
    16,014.360
    14.660
    0.1%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.799
    -0.006
    -0.2%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.430
    0.240
    1.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,995.600
    10.280
    0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.930
    -0.020
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  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.620
    0.010
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  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.330
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  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.570
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.390
    0.070
    3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.130
    0.020
    0.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    16,014.360
    14.660
    0.1%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.799
    -0.006
    -0.2%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.430
    0.240
    1.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,995.600
    10.280
    0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.930
    -0.020
    -0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.620
    0.010
    0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.330
    -0.040
    -2.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.570
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
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    3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.130
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  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    0.000
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American ShipperIntermodal

Obama budget request hits ports hard

Maritime industry groups are concerned that the 2017 fiscal year budget request from the Obama administration will hurt progress made by ports on infrastructure and the environment.

   President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget request released on Tuesday would cut the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program, which is responsible for dredging the nation’s waterways and maintaining locks and dams critical to maritime commerce, by 30 percent from the $6 billion appropriated this year. Other programs important to the maritime industry and ports also come under the budget ax, with the exception of new freight-related highway and intermodal investments recently authorized by Congress.
   The President’s budget also proposes a $432 million cut from appropriated levels, or 13.8 percent, in the Corps of Engineers’ Operations and Maintenance account and requests $986 million be appropriated from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, down $1.25 billion from fiscal year 2016 funding levels.
   The slower drawdown of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund goes against the intent of Congress as expressed in the 2014 Water Resources and Reform Development Act, which established annual incremental increases that would lead to full use of collected taxes for dredging by 2025. The administration’s proposed budget fails to hit the fiscal year 2017 target and doesn’t continue to fund the HMT donor equity provisions that Congress initiated last year, the American Association of Port Authorities pointed out.
   Michael Toohey, president of Waterways Council Inc., called the budget a major disappointment. 
   “Our nation’s waterways, and lock and dam modernization, are critical to the transportation supply chain and to competition for shippers on the world stage, yet we continue to see slashed funding. With Congressional FY 16 appropriations funding finally at efficient levels, we simply cannot go backwards when the outlook for freight ahead is so robust,” Toohey said in a statement.
   “Congress has consistently demonstrated its understanding of the importance of infrastructure investment,” he added. “WCI will work vigorously to reverse the Administration’s recommendations in the halls of Congress.”
   The proposed budget reflects the $2 billion for dedicated freight funding Congress set aside in the recently-enacted Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015. It also calls for a new 21st Century Clean Transportation Plan that would significantly increase funding for TIGER grants to $1.25 billion from $500 million.
   The $951 million requested by the President for maintaining America’s deep-draft harbors is 22 percent less than the $1.22 billion appropriated by Congress for fiscal year 2016.  Furthermore, the budget request for the Corps’ coastal navigation construction is about 41 percent lower than the congressionally-approved fiscal 2016 budget of $1.86 billion.
   Ports and other entities would also have less money for Clean Truck programs, retrofitting or replacing yard equipment, installing shore power for vessels at docks, and retrofitting dredges and tugs with cleaner engines. The administration proposes to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emission Reductions Act grants program from $50 million to $10 million.
   The administration also proposed a 7 percent decrease in funding for port security grants from the current amount of $100 million.
   “While AAPA believes the Administration’s budget would lead to improved freight movement over our surface transportation system, all would be for naught if the budget’s proposed cuts to waterside infrastructure programs were adopted,” said Kurt Nagle, president of the American Association of Port Authorities. “If we can’t get the goods efficiently and competitively into and out of our country through seaports and waterside navigation channels, American manufacturers won’t be able to receive the materials and/or components they need, and they as well as U.S. farmers, won’t be able to competitively export their products globally. In addition, U.S. retailers and consumers will suffer.”

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