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

Navigation

Life Rafts Not Functioning On Sunk Ferry's Sister Ship

South Korean investigators said on Friday that life rafts and escape chutes on a sister ship to a sunken ferry were not working properly. The Sewol ferry, weighing almost 7,

DockMaster 8.0 Beta Program Launched

My-Villages, owner of the DockMaster suite of marine business software, launched DockMaster 8.0 for beta testing, which it calls the most powerful version yet with new navigation,

GAO: Limited Commercial Arctic Development Foreseen

Decreasing seasonal sea ice has opened up Arctic waters for longer periods with resulting potential economic opportunities in commercial shipping, cruises, commercial fishing, oil, and mining.

Environmental

At Hamburg port E-mobility Project, BESIC enters crucial phase

Ten battery-operated heavy goods vehicles now transport containers between ships and the yard at the highly automated handling facility in the HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA).

SCAA Supports International Oil Spill Conference

As the Voice of Spill Response Professionals, the Spill Control Association of America (SCAA) is supporting and assisting with the planning and coordination of IOSC 2014 on May 5-8 in Savannah, Ga.

Rolls-Royce Wins Heyerdahl Award

Rolls-Royce has been awarded the maritime Heyerdahl Award 2014. The award was presented by His Majesty King Harald at the Norwegian Shipowners’ Associations Annual Conference in Oslo March 31.

Dredging

IHC Merwede Secures TSHD Order from TNPA

IHC Merwede has been awarded the contract for the design, construction and delivery of a 5,500m3 trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD) to Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) in South Africa.

Van Oord acquires 100% control of Dravo

Van Oord has acquired all shares of its Spanish subsidiary Dravo S.A.  Dravo S.A. has been owned, since 1987, by Van Oord (50%) and the Spanish company Dragados S.

US FMC Commissioner Visits Panama Canal Expansion Sites

Counsel to the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission informs that  Commissioner William P. Doyle has recently surveyed the construction site on a visit to the Pacific-side of the expanded Panama Canal.

Barges

Brokers Marcon Conclude Ocean Deck Barge Sale

Marcon International, Inc. of Coupeville, Washington says that Pacific Coast Maritime, Inc., Seattle, Washington, a subsidiary of Harley Marine Services, Seattle,

ABS Approves Design for GTTNA’s LNG Bunker Barge

GTT North America (GTTNA), the Houston-based subsidiary of French engineering and technology company Gaztransport & Technigaz SA (GTT), received approval in principle from ABS for the design of a 2,

When Will Deep Sea Mining Commence? The Robot is Ready

The world's first deep sea mining robot sits idle on a British factory floor, waiting to claw up high grade copper and gold from the seabed off Papua New Guinea

Government Update

Reps. Byrne and Palazzo Visit Ingalls Shipbuilding

Reps. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., and Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., visited Huntington Ingalls Industries' (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division Wednesday. The congressmen,

Offshore O&G: Cuts, Delays in Norway as Costs Soar

More oil and gas projects in Norway could be put on hold because of rising costs, adding to a growing list of developments that have been delayed or called off,

Court: Japan's Mitsui Paid to Release Ship

China Supreme Court says Mitsui pays about $29 mln; Ship released about 0030 GMT Thursday. Ship was seized over dispute dating back to 1930s. Advisor to plaintiffs says will likely demand more money.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Port Authority Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction 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: 0.2361 sec (4 req/sec)