Senate’s 'America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018' follows House passage
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) … the unified and recognized voice of America’s seaports … today voiced strong support for the U.S. Senate passing S. 3021, America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AIWA). The legislation, which follows legislation passed by the U.S. House on Sept. 13, authorizes investments in the nation’s ports and waterways, and includes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018.
The “pre-conferenced” bill, which was negotiated between leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Environment and Public Works committees, now goes to the President for his signature.
AWIA continues the process, established in the 2014 water resources legislation, of enacting a WRDA bill every two years. This enables navigation channel improvements to be studied, authorized and constructed in a timely and efficient manner, utilizing new guidance that is critical to the nation’s efficient freight movement and economic growth.
In addition to authorizing three coastal navigation channel improvement projects (benefiting the ports of Seattle, Galveston and San Juan, PR) to proceed to construction, the new legislation approves modifications to authorized navigation projects in Savannah, Ga., Norfolk, Va., and Sault St. Marie/Soo Locks, Mich. It also expedites qualifying projects currently under study to proceed into the preliminary engineering and design phase, benefiting the Port of Tacoma, tributaries leading to the Port of New York and New Jersey, and ports in Houma, Baptiste Collette and Bayou LaFourche, La., and Nome, Alaska.
Furthermore, S. 3021 directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide technical assistance when requested for sponsor-led navigation channel improvement studies, benefiting ports in Port Canaveral, Fla.; Wilmington, NC; Savannah, Ga.; and Port Fourchon, Houma, Baptiste Collette and Bayou LaFourche, La. It also directs the Corps to maintain and provide a “balance sheet” on cost-shared funding efforts to address dredged-material placement facility cost-share issues, which benefits Port Houston and other Texas ports.
“By overwhelmingly approving AWIA 2018 today, we commend the Senate for helping ensure that crucial water resources legislation is addressed and passed by Congress on an every-two-year basis,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle. “Today’s AWIA passage continues the trend of streamlining maritime infrastructure improvements by expediting evaluations, enabling timely decisions and providing greater funding flexibilities, as well as authorizing new projects.”
Mr. Nagle added that AAPA appreciates the efforts to guarantee full use of annual Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) revenues, even though the final AWIA bill did not address this issue. “Looking ahead,” he said, “we’ll continue working with Congress to ensure all of the federal HMT collected is fully spent each year so there’s continued availability and competitiveness of our nation’s harbors, and that HMT funds are distributed fairly, equitably and reliably.”
Cargo activities at America’s seaports are significant drivers of the U.S. economy, supporting more than 23 million American jobs and generating over $320 billion in annual federal, state and local taxes. All but 1 percent of the nation’s overseas trade moves through its maritime facilities, and U.S. seaport cargo activities account for more than one-quarter of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
About AAPA Founded in 1912 and recognized as the unified voice of seaports in the Americas, AAPA today represents 140 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 250 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. According to IHS Markit’s World Trade Service, combined international sea trade moving through Western Hemisphere ports in 2016 totaled 3.49 billion metric tons in volume and US$3.01 trillion in value. Of that total, ports in Central and South America handled 1.71 billion metric tons of cargo valued at US$941 billion, while North American ports handled 1.79 billion metric tons of goods, valued at US$2.07 trillion. To meet the growing demand for trade, the AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable. For more information, visit www.aapa-ports.org. On Twitter: http://twitter.com/AAPA_Seaports
Port Name: American Association of Port Authorities