Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) is urging the swift rejection of a proposal to phase out the current inland waterways tax on diesel fuel and replace it with a lock usage fee included in President Obama’s FY 2010 proposed budget. This same idea was proposed by the Bush Administration, and soundly rejected by the 110th Congress.
Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Terrence Salt testified this week before the House Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water Development Subcommittee in support of the Army Corps of Engineers FY 2010 budget, including the lockage fee proposal.
“This lockage fee is an ill-conceived proposal that should be rejected by this Congress just as it was by the last Congress. This proposal is intended ultimately to triple the taxes paid by commercial users of the waterways system, likely forcing shippers to divert cargo from the waterways to already congested highways and railways,” said Cornel Martin, President and CEO of Waterways Council, Inc. “We are surprised and disappointed that the Corps of Engineers and the Obama Administration would support a tax that will discourage the use of barge transportation, the most energy efficient, environmentally sound way to move our nation’s bulk commodities like grain and corn from our farms, fuel for our transportation needs, construction materials to rebuild America, and coal to meet our energy needs. At a time when this Administration is calling upon our citizens to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible, this proposal seems grossly out of step.”
The Waterways Council urges the Administration to allow a current government-industry initiative, now underway, to develop an improved project delivery system and Long Term Capital Plan for America’s inland waterways infrastructure. This initiative being developed by industry leaders and the Corps of Engineers will be presented to Congress later this year for consideration in the development of a 2010 Water Resources Development Act.