The U.S. Senate passed, by a vote of 83-14, legislation authorizing funding for the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which includes port dredging and improvements, modernization of locks and dams in inland waterways and flood control protections such as levees and dams.
Thomas J. Gibson, President and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) said the legislation has a positive impact on the steel industry:
“As our nation continues to struggle with unemployment, this bill — according to its sponsors — is expected to create an estimated 500,000 jobs. It will enhance commerce on our inland waterways by equitably steering barge fuel fees to lock and dam projects necessary for navigation, and will pilot an innovative financing loan program that can help deliver desperately needed infrastructure projects to taxpayers. It also makes certain that user fees banked in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will gradually be devoted to maintaining ports and harbors, as Congress intended, rather than used to fund extraneous programs. The steel industry applauds these provisions as we rely heavily on seaports and inland waterways to move raw materials necessary for steelmaking, and also to move finished steel products to market. Our nation’s seaports are heavily congested and not dredged to full capacity, while our inland waterways are comprised of obsolete and aging infrastructure that often results in costly delays. Underinvestment in these two waterborne sectors threatens more than 1 million U.S. jobs and $270 billion in U.S. exports by 2020. WRDA reauthorization will help restore some of our nation’s precious ecosystems while enhancing critical infrastructure and creating jobs. We applaud its Senate passage today.”
Press Release, May 16, 2013