Congressman Fred Upton hailed this weekâ€™s House passage of legislation that would ensure future funding for vital harbor maintenance, keeping harbors throughout southwest Michigan and the Great Lakes open for business.
The commonsense provision, which was part of the short-term highway bill (H.R. 4348), guarantees that all funding in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) be fully used for its intended purpose of harbor maintenance. These revenues are already collected through the federal Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) that is imposed on commercial shippers for the purpose of maintaining our nationâ€™s harbors. The fund has been left with a surplus in recent years as a budgetary gimmick, jeopardizing the operating capability of the regionâ€™s harbors.
â€śEnsuring our harbors remain open and ready for business is essential to job creation and growth here in southwest Michigan,â€ť said Upton. â€śRather than denying our local harbors these vital dredging dollars â€“ money that is already paid into the system through harbor user fees â€“ we must see to it that our harbors remain bastions of economic growth.â€ť
Keeping the St. Joseph harbor open to commercial traffic has long been a top priority for Upton as our Great Lakes harbors are essential to economic growth, infrastructure development, and countless local jobs. From emergency dredging to maintaining standard operations, Upton has fought to keep these vital resources open. Upton is a strong supporter of the bipartisan Realize Americaâ€™s Maritime Promise (RAMP) Act (H.R. 104), which likewise would ensure that all federal revenues currently being collected for harbor maintenance are fully used and not left unspent as a budgetary offset. This past winter, Upton worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure emergency funding to dredge the St. Joseph harbor, which had been closed to commercial traffic due to serve shoaling.
Dredging Today Staff, April 23, 2012;