OPPOSITION CONTINUES AGAINST DURBIN AMENDMENT
Industry groups have continued their opposition to the introduction of a bill that would eliminate the ability of dredge firm Bean-Stuyvesant to bid on large harbor-deepening contracts.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and supported by firms in the Dredging Contractors of America group, would prevent foreign-U.S. partnerships, such as Bean-Stuyvesant, from chartering vessels in the U.S. by eliminating a grandfather clause granted to Netherlands-based Stuyvesant in 1992 legislation. Durbin may attempt to attach the bill to pending maritime security legislation or to a 'must go' appropriations bill.
'The amendment would in effect prohibit Bean Styvesant from chartering these vessels, barring it from the U.S. dredging market and thereby eliminating one of only a few existing companies that can bid on large U.S. dredging projects,' said Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Ocean Transportation Coalition, in a letter to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest, R-Texas, on Oct. 19.
'Dredging costs would certainly increase as a result of the amendment,' Friedmann added. 'Needed dredging projects at U.S. ports will also be delayed.'
'If Bean Stuyvesant were to be eliminated as a competitor, port dredging costs could rise by as much as 25 percent,' said John P. Simpson, president of the American Association of Exporters and Importers in a letter earlier this month to Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. 'These costs would eventually be passed on to American families in the form of either higher taxes or higher prices for imported products.'
Other industry groups to voice opposition to the Durbin amendment are the National Industrial Transportation League and American Association of Port Authorities.
For more an in-depth review of the Durbin amendment debate, access September 2002 American Shipper, pages 88-90.