Many of AAPA’s priorities reflected in navigation aspects of WIIN legislation
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)—the unified and recognized voice of seaports in the Americas—is celebrating passage by the House on Thursday and the Senate today of a final water resources development bill - rebranded as the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, or WIIN (S. 612). AAPA was pleased to see many of its recommendations adopted, which will help the nation build and maintain needed 21st century seaport water infrastructure more quickly and efficiently.
The vote in the House was 360-61 in favor, while the Senate voted 78-21 for passage.
Following strong advocacy by AAPA, its members and other maritime interests, the bill modernizes the cost-share depth for navigation construction projects from 45 to 50 feet deep to reflect the growing size of the world vessel fleet. The 45-foot depth was established in 1986. The cost-share for maintenance was updated in WRRDA 2014 and this provision in WIIN makes maintenance and construction cost-share depths consistent.
Also at AAPA’s urging, WIIN includes authorization backstop language that ensures Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) funding targets will increase by 3 percent over the prior year, even if the HMT revenue estimates decrease, to continue annual progress towards full use of the HMT by 2025.
Another important element of the legislation is an AAPA-advocated extension of the HMT donor and energy transfer port provision. WIIN extends the program through 2020, along with a provisional extension to 2025 if the annual HMT appropriation targets are met or exceeded. In WIIN, Congress also included language that clarifies the process for HMT donor rebates and an expansion of this program for medium-size donor ports which handle over 5 million tons of cargo annually.
“AAPA is not only pleased that all of our key navigation priorities were included in this bill, but by passing it during the 114th Congress, it enables the much-needed return to biennial legislation in order to authorize 21st century navigation channel improvements in a timely manner.
“AAPA’s top three priorities were continuing the progress toward full use of the Harbor Maintenance Tax, providing a continuation of the donor and energy transfer port program, and modernizing the channel deepening cost-share formula. Additionally, WIIN makes technical improvements we urged to enable the program to run more efficiently.
“AAPA has long supported modernizing the cost-share formula to help bring America’s navigation channels into the 21st century. WIIN does this by changing the current cost-share formula for construction from 45 feet to 50 feet. In 2014, Congress changed the cost-share level for maintenance dredging to 50 feet and this provision would make the cost-share formulas for maintenance and deepening consistent.
“The original deepening formula was established 30 years ago in WRDA 1986. Enormous changes in global shipping have occurred since then; there have been multiple generations of containerships deployed, with ship sizes increasing from 3,000 to over 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs.
“Finally, AAPA supported the inclusion of technical changes that would streamline and expedite navigation projects. For example, a technical change directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue implementation guidance for WRRDA Section 2102 within 90 days of the bill’s enactment. This process, which established a new funds distribution method, includes special funding for HMT donor ports. Language was also included that clarifies that a project sponsor can fund the Corps to conduct the economic analysis on sponsor-led feasibility studies, and that clarifies when the Corps can accept and use materials and services.
“Including AAPA-advocated provisions in the final legislation helps ensure America’s ports and goods are strong global competitors for 21st century freight movement.”
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About AAPA Founded in 1912, 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 World Trade Service, combined international sea trade moving through Western Hemisphere ports in 2014 totaled 3.48 billion metric tons in volume and US$3.75 trillion in value. Of that total, ports in Central and South America handled 1.68 billion metric tons of cargo valued at US$1.36 trillion, while North American ports handled 1.79 billion metric tons of goods, valued at US$2.39 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