AAPA Sees Just One Bright Spot in President's Fiscal 2015 Budget

MarineLink.com
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Kurt Nagle: Photo credit AAPA

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), on behalf of its United States member seaports, expresses both encouragement and disappointment over the funding levels and programmatic changes in federal port-related programs proposed in the President’s FY 2015 budget.

While the President’s budget proposal included funding for a new National Infrastructure Investment program, it also decreases funding for the Corps of Engineers’ modernization and maintenance programs for seaports and eliminates the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant program. It also continues to call for the elimination of the Port Security Grant Program, replacing it and other state and local programs with a National Preparedness Grant Program to be managed by the states.

On the bright side of President Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget, AAPA says it is encouraged over the Administration’s plan to significantly increase funding for transportation infrastructure within the Department of Transportation. The President proposed the creation of a $1.25 billion trust fund for multimodal transportation infrastructure, which would increase and sustain funding of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program and establish a new freight grant program aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the United States in the global marketplace. The proposed new multimodal account for rail, highway and port projects would seek to address the greatest needs for the efficient movement of goods across the country and abroad.

“AAPA believes these grants would have strong and positive effects on freight system improvement, although we don’t know yet how much is specifically proposed for improving landside connections with America’s ports and their landside connections” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO. He added that AAPA has strongly advocated for continuing TIGER program funding and dedicating at least 25 percent of the grants to port-related infrastructure.

AAPA says it is also pleased to learn that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) budget provides modest increases over the FY 2014 enacted levels for core navigation and related services. The budget also provides an increased focus on helping coastal and port communities address challenges associated with long-term resiliency and reducing vulnerability to extreme weather events. Exact funding levels will not be released until next week.

Other areas of the President’s budget request were less encouraging. At $4.56 billion, the Corps of Engineers' (Corps) Civil Works funding decreases 5.8 percent from the FY 2014 President’s budget of $4.83 billion.  The Corps’ Navigation Program declined to a lesser extent than the overall Corps funding and now is 40 percent of the Corps Civil Works program, the highest percent it has been in the last six years.

Mr. Nagle said, ”The Corps of Engineers’ budget proposal falls well short of the waterside maintenance and modernization needs of this country. We were disappointed to see that the budget request for Corps port-related programs decreased from the FY 2014 enacted budget in both the operations and maintenance and the construction accounts, despite the President's call to upgrade U.S. ports and the goal of doubling exports. Our nation is at a critical point in maintaining our international competitiveness, and the FY 2015 budget request would result in trade-related infrastructure losing further ground at a time when we are already behind many of our competitors.”

The Corps budget proposal would be nearly a nine percent decrease in the operations and maintenance budget, which currently stands at $1 billion.  While the proposal is a 2.8 percent increase from last year’s President’s budget – from $890 million in FY 2014 to $915 million in the FY 2015 request – it falls woefully short of the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) collections which fund this program, as well as the needs of the seaports. HMT revenues grew 8.2 percent from $1.65 billion in FY 2012 to an estimated $1.79 billion in FY 2013. The President’s budget proposes using only 51 percent of the yearly collections. The remainder will add to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund balance, which currently stands at $8.1 billion. The President’s proposal also fails to follow the Sense of Congress included in the MAP-21 surface transportation legislation passed by Congress in 2012. MAP-21 recommends the Administration request full use of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for operating and maintaining U.S. navigation channels.

Funding for improving federal channels would take another significant hit under the President’s budget. The budget request contains a 10 percent decrease in FY 2015 from FY 2014 for channel improvements. The FY 2014 funding was a 28 percent decrease from FY 2013.

The enthusiasm generated from the President’s and Vice-President’s port tours and discussions in 2013 and inclusion of the need to upgrade our ports in the January State of the Union address has been dampened by the budget request.

With regard to seaport security, the Administration’s proposal for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Preparedness Grant Program is set at $1.04 billion, which would serve as a consolidation of all state and local preparedness grants, including the Port Security Grant Program. This proposal, similar to previous budget requests, would move management of the consolidated grant program to the states. This proposal has been blocked by Congress in previous years. AAPA remains opposed to moving these grants to the state level, advocating for the existing separate program that is managed at the federal level as seaports are international borders for trade and should not be lumped with state and local programs.

In the environmental arena, funding for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), which has been highly successful in helping ports reduce emissions from older diesel engines, was eliminated by the Administration in order to fund other priorities of the EPA.  Mr. Nagle stated that AAPA will continue to press Congress for continued funding for DERA.

“As the Administration and Congress grapple with the multiple goals of reducing the nation’s debt while growing jobs and the economy, federal investments in ports and their connecting infrastructure continue to be an essential, effective utilization of limited resources, paying dividends through increased trade, jobs and over $20 billion a year in tax revenues,” said Mr. Nagle.

About AAPA
Founded in 1912, AAPA today represents more than 130 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and about 300 sustaining, associate and honorary members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports.

To find out more about AAPA's 'Awareness Initiative' go to: http://www.aapa-ports.org/Issues/content.cfm?ItemNumber=11307
 

Maritime Reporter April 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Petronas to Deliver LNG from FLNG in Q1 2016

The world's first floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, built by Petronas, is expected to supply its first cargoes in the first quarter of 2016, senior

IRS on Talent Acquisition Spree

IRClass, the Leading Ship Classification Society has hired 17 of the brightest and best Naval Architecture students from the elite technical institutes of India.

Royal IHC introduces IHC Workhorse

Royal IHC has announced an extension to its innovative range of vessels with the introduction of the IHC Workhorse. This new design for a hybrid anchor handling

Ports

Houthis: Additional US Warships off Yemen Tightens Seige

A senior official in the Iran-allied Houthi movement said the movement of more U.S. warships into waters off Yemen escalates Washington's role in a Saudi-led campaign

Philippines: China Intimidating Its Fishing Boats

Filipino activists denounced China's coast guard on Tuesday for turning water cannon on Philippine fishing boats in disputed waters, near where hundreds of Filipino

UN: EU Should Do More in Med Migrant Crisis

UN refugee agency calls for intra-European solidarity. The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday urged European leaders to do more to help Greece and Italy cope with

Finance

Petronas to Deliver LNG from FLNG in Q1 2016

The world's first floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, built by Petronas, is expected to supply its first cargoes in the first quarter of 2016, senior

UN: EU Should Do More in Med Migrant Crisis

UN refugee agency calls for intra-European solidarity. The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday urged European leaders to do more to help Greece and Italy cope with

U.S. Ports Account for 26% of Nation’s Economy

From 2007 to 2014, the total economic value that U.S. coastal ports provide in terms of revenue to businesses, personal income and economic output by exporters and importers rose 43 percent to $4.

Government Update

Houthis: Additional US Warships off Yemen Tightens Seige

A senior official in the Iran-allied Houthi movement said the movement of more U.S. warships into waters off Yemen escalates Washington's role in a Saudi-led campaign

Philippines: China Intimidating Its Fishing Boats

Filipino activists denounced China's coast guard on Tuesday for turning water cannon on Philippine fishing boats in disputed waters, near where hundreds of Filipino

UN: EU Should Do More in Med Migrant Crisis

UN refugee agency calls for intra-European solidarity. The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday urged European leaders to do more to help Greece and Italy cope with

Logistics

Petronas to Deliver LNG from FLNG in Q1 2016

The world's first floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, built by Petronas, is expected to supply its first cargoes in the first quarter of 2016, senior

U.S. Ports Account for 26% of Nation’s Economy

From 2007 to 2014, the total economic value that U.S. coastal ports provide in terms of revenue to businesses, personal income and economic output by exporters and importers rose 43 percent to $4.

Titan, Svitzer Merger Creates Global Salvage Giant

Svitzer, salvage division of AP Moller-Maersk and Titan Salvage, a division of Crowley Maritime Corp are merging their salvage operations to create a new market leader.

 
 
Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2768 sec (4 req/sec)