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

Navigation

Canadian Frigates Get a Radar Upgrade

German navigation system manufacturer Raytheon Anschütz has completed factory acceptance tests and delivery of 12 sets of navigation radars for the Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigates.

Automatic Camera for Monitoring Vessel Engine Developed

NYK and the Monohakobi Technology Institute  have jointly developed “Kirari NINJA” (patent pending), a device that can automatically photograph the interior of a vessel engine’s combustion chamber.

‘Chapplaincy’ for Better Seafarers' Welfare Support

Smartphone App created with support from Augustea Group and MarineTraffic will help charity deliver improved service and better measure impact of its work Sailors’ Society,

Environmental

Ballast Water System Retrofits for 11 Containerships

Eleven container vessels owned by Bernhard Schulte GmbH & Co. KG, based in Germany, are to be retrofitted with Wärtsilä Aquarius Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS), Wärtsilä announced today.

U.S. Coast Guard Responds to Collision Near Paducah

On-scene assessment teams have reported the maximum estimated potential clarified slurry oil released from the tug collision is now 250,000 gallons, Thursday. The

Occurrence of Humpback Whales at Franz Josef Land Recorded

Scientists first documented occurrence of humpback whales near the archipelago of Franz Josef Land. Experts attribute this to the successful development of their populations.

Dredging

New Cutter Suction Dredge: Modern and Efficient

Ellicott Dredges, LLC has debuted a new design 20” (500 mm) cutter suction dredge, the Series 2070 Dragon dredge.    Aiming to take advantage of modern, up-to-date

Draft Increase at Southwest Pass, Mississippi River

The draft for the Southwest Pass on the Mississippi River has been increased from 45 to 47 feet following dredging, Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) is advising.

Runaway Crane Barge Sinks on the Mississippi

The U.S. Coast Guard is working with a team of responders to recover a runaway crane barge that sunk near Convent on the Mississippi River.   The crane barge

Barges

U.S. Coast Guard Responds to Collision Near Paducah

On-scene assessment teams have reported the maximum estimated potential clarified slurry oil released from the tug collision is now 250,000 gallons, Thursday. The

MN 100: Elliott Bay Design Group

The Company: Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG) is a Seattle-based, employee-owned enterprise with offices in New Orleans and Ketchikan that provides full-service naval architecture,

Kirby Selects ABS as Subchapter M Solutions Provider

Proactive effort shows commitment to safety and environmental protection. ABS, a provider of maritime shipping and offshore classification services, has been

Government Update

Timing in Doubt on Hapag-Lloyd IPO

German container shipping group Hapag-Lloyd has taken further steps in preparation of a stock market listing and has mandated more banks for the move, but it remains

Australia's New Shipping Laws Threaten Loss of Jobs

The planned changes to Australia’s shipping laws would cause a 93% loss of Australian seafaring jobs a new report says.   More than nine in 10 domestic seafarers

Proposed Shipping Legislation to Jeopardise$100-million Investment in Australia

Australian-owned Bass Strait shipping operator SeaRoad Holdings has warned the Federal Government that its proposed Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill could jeopardise

 
 
Maritime Security Maritime Standards Navigation Port Authority Salvage Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction 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: 0.1946 sec (5 req/sec)