WRDA to the Wise

By Michael J. Toohey, WCI President/CEO
Monday, June 24, 2013

May 15, 2013 was a very good day for the nation’s barge and towing operators, as well as shippers of grain, coal, chemicals, petroleum products, aggregate materials, and agri-input products. It was also a good day for our nation’s economy and for its consumers. The Senate passed, by a vote of 83-14, a long-overdue Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), last reauthorized in 2007. 
Six years may not seem like a long time to await action on Capitol Hill. But since 57% of the locks and dams on the nation’s inland waterways system have exceeded their economic design life expectancy of 50 years, every day anticipating increased investment is critical. Delay has meant that the nation’s critical inland waterways infrastructure has continued to erode without efficient funding levels to complete construction of locks and dams, or for major rehabilitation of the aged system. 
But thanks to the collaborative, bi-partisan efforts over many months, particularly by Senate Environment & Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA), WRDA was passed in the Senate. Among its many provisions, the WRDA bill contains a number of critically important elements related to the funding of inland waterways lock and dam infrastructure. 
Of particular interest to WCI and its members and stakeholders is the inclusion in the bill of several provisions of the RIVER (Reinvesting In Vital Economic Rivers and Waterways) Act -- S. 407 -- introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and co-sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). They are: 
Changing Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) cost-sharing for the over-budget Olmsted lock and dam project, with the remainder of the cost of the project to be paid 100% by general treasury revenue.  Removing Olmsted from the Trust Fund will free up approximately $750 million in the Fund to complete other critical priority navigation projects on the system.
Increasing the threshold for major rehabilitation, from the current $14 million to $20 million, brings additional relief to the Trust Fund. Only around 300 towboat operators pay a user fee of 20-cents-per-gallon into the Trust Fund that is matched by the U.S. Treasury General Funds to pay for half of the cost of new construction and major rehabilitation on the waterways system.      
Prioritizing navigation projects and reforming Corps of Engineers’ delivery of projects to achieve on time and within budget performance is a hallmark of this legislation. Prioritization is based upon risk of failure and benefits to the nation with an emphasis on finishing projects already underway and assuring that funding is available to efficiently complete work. Ensuring that future Corps’ estimates for project costs have a confidence level of at least 80% is also included.
Passage of increased funding for inland port dredging to be released from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund was also welcomed by the industry in the just passed bill.
Not included in the Senate WRDA bill is the industry-supported provision to increase the diesel fuel user fee. The Constitution requires that revenue enhancement measures originate in the House of Representatives; therefore this provision must originate in the House version of WRDA or be added to some other revenue measure.    
The next step on WRDA is action in the House, where it is a priority under the leadership of Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs. Passage of a WRDA bill in the House, conferences with the Senate’s bill and finally onto the President for his signature, would meaningfully modernize our nation’s vital inland waterways transportation system. And according to Senator Boxer, the bill also has the potential to create an estimated 500,000 American jobs. It would also increase exports, keep our nation competitive, and inject billions of dollars into the U.S. economy.
In the House, the companion bill to the RIVER Act is H.R. 1149, WAVE 4 --Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment Act of 2013. Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) introduced the bill on March 14, with lead Democratic co-sponsor Congressman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL).  Other bi-partisan co-sponsors include Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL), Congressman Rodney  Davis (R-IL), Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX), Congressman Jo Bonner (R-AL), Congressman William Enyart (D-IL), Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL),   Congressman Mike D. Rogers (R-AL), Congressman John M. Shimkus (R-IL), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Congressman Matthew Cartwright (D-PA), Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH), Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO),  Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL), and Congressman Rodney Alexander (R-IL). 
While many things in life are worth the wait, a WRDA bill that is achieved in a bi-partisan way and is signed by the President is simply something for which we can’t afford to wait much longer. Urge your House members to catch the WAVE 4 a WRDA bill this year.

 

(As published in the June 2013 edition of Marine News - www.marinelink.com)

Maritime Reporter November 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Navigation

Transas Installs ECDIS Simulators at Romanian University

Romanian university Constanța Maritime University will provide ECDIS training in accordance with the STCW 2010 requirements    Transas Marine has installed the

Port of Amsterdam to Reward Green Barges

The cleaner the vessels, the larger the discount on Inland Harbour Dues. Port of Amsterdam will be joining the Green Award program for inland barges on January 1,

Panama Canal Expansion Moves Ahead

The works for the grout curtain to protect the foundation of Borinquen 1E Dam concluded today. The grout curtain is 2.4 kilometers long and 15 meters deep under

Environmental

Italian Shipbuilder Pleads Guilty to Environmental Crimes

An Italian shipping firm based in Genoa, Italy, pleaded guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships by falsifying required ships’ documents to hide

K Line to Expand Use of Eco-efficiency Software

Three further K Line vessels to install ClassNK-NAPA GREEN eco-efficiency software after reporting fuel savings during trials on an 8,600 TEU container vessel   NAPA

LR Supports Chinese Recycling Yards' EU Application

LR’s initial verification of the Ship Recycling Facility Plans for both Zhoushan Changhong International Ship Recycling Co. Ltd. and Jiangyin Xiagang Changjiang

Dredging

Even 'Small' Vessels are Getting Bigger

The Shipowners’ Club is a mutual provider of P&I insurance that has throughout its 160 year history been dedicated to serving owners of small and specialist ships.

Container Volumes on the Rise in South Carolina

Container volume up 13 percent at South Carolina Ports Authority; Charleston benefiting from federal appropriations    The SC Ports Authority announced another

Phase 1 Dredging Wraps Up in Redwood City

Phase 1 of maintenance dredging of the Redwood City Harbor and Channel was completed this week, bringing the Port of Redwood City channel to a depth of 28 feet.

Barges

Becker Marine Delivers Rudder for Largest Containership

Becker Marine Systems delivers rudder for the largest container ship in the world   At 19,000 TEU, the largest container ship in the world is now picking up speed

Port of Amsterdam to Reward Green Barges

The cleaner the vessels, the larger the discount on Inland Harbour Dues. Port of Amsterdam will be joining the Green Award program for inland barges on January 1,

WCI Applauds Barge Diesel Fuel User Fee Increase

Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) and its members and stakeholders applauded the Senate’s passage, by a vote of 76 to16, of a 9-cent increase to the barge diesel fuel user fee.

Government Update

USCG Says Unaffected by Cuba Policy Changes

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) issued a statement today stating that the United States’ Cuba policy change will not impact its missions annd operations. “Coast Guard

Libyan State Oil Firm NOC Will Remain Independent

Libya's Tripoli-based state firm National Oil Corp (NOC) will remain independent, it said on Thursday, in an apparent attempt to reassure foreign oil buyers it will stay out of the country's conflict.

Italian Shipbuilder Pleads Guilty to Environmental Crimes

An Italian shipping firm based in Genoa, Italy, pleaded guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships by falsifying required ships’ documents to hide

 
 
Maritime Contracts Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | 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: 4.1200 sec (0 req/sec)