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

Navigation

Findland Fairway Due Law

Based on the Finland Ministry of Transport and Communication’s maritime strategy, the Finnish parliament has announced a final and lawful decision on the new

DNV GL “Modification Excellence Award” for Schiffahrt

Classification society DNV GL recognised that E.R. Schiffahrt has retrofitted seven ultra large container vessels to meet the highest energy efficiency standards

MSC Approves SOLAS Amendments

SOLAS amendments to make IGF Code mandatory approved by Maritime Safety Committee   The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC),

Environmental

EU Regs on Ship CO2 Reporting Complicates IMO Agreement

ICS Concerned that EU will Preempt IMO CO2 Negotiations.   The global trade association for shipowners – the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) – is disappointed

World’s Largest Boxship is DNV GL classed

CSCL Globe, the world’s largest containership and the first of a series of five 19,100 TEU containerships ordered by China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) in 2013,

ESSA's Fleet Upgradation Environmental Driven

State-controlled Exportadora de Sal SA de CV of Mexico ("ESSA"), one of the world’s largest salt exporters with a 10-million-ton annual production, has strengthened

Dredging

Song Thu Lays Keel for New Dredger

The construction of a new vessel of dredging fleet, project TSHD 2000, has been launched to the RS class in Da Nang, Vietnam. The keel laying ceremony was held

EU Funds Study into New Aberdeen Harbor

The EU's TEN-T Program will invest over $940,000 for development studies for a new harbor at Nigg Bay in Aberdeen, Scotland. The harbor is to support the existing

Barges

New Players in Singapore Markets in OW's Absence

The downfall of a leading marine fuel supplier that prompted sellers to tighten credit terms in Singapore is skewing the post-OW Bunker jostle for market share

ESSA's Fleet Upgradation Environmental Driven

State-controlled Exportadora de Sal SA de CV of Mexico ("ESSA"), one of the world’s largest salt exporters with a 10-million-ton annual production, has strengthened

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

Government Update

EU Regs on Ship CO2 Reporting Complicates IMO Agreement

ICS Concerned that EU will Preempt IMO CO2 Negotiations.   The global trade association for shipowners – the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) – is disappointed

NATO Unconcerned by Russian Warships in English Channel

A squadron of Russian warships entered the English Channel on Friday but a NATO official dismissed a Russian media report that they were there to conduct military exercises.

Japan Military Wants China "Crisis Management" Pact

Japan's highest-ranking military officer on Friday urged an early start to a "crisis management" mechanism with China amid conflicting claims to a group of tiny East China Sea islands.

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Navigation Pipelines Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction 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: 0.2516 sec (4 req/sec)