The House of Representatives has approved a major infrastructure investment bill authored by the leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee which strengthens the water transportation network that West Virginia coal exports and jobs depend upon. H.R. 3080, “The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013,” authorizes significant investment in the Nation’s network of inland waterways and U.S. ports to promote the efficient movement of coal and other commodities.
The bipartisan bill was crafted collaboratively by U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chairman of the full Committee, and U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall, the top Democrat on the Committee, and passed the House by a vote of 417 to 3.
“When most people think about how our coal gets moved from the mines out to the markets, they immediately think of freight rail,” said Rahall. “While we certainly fill up our fair share of hopper cars, we are just as dependent on our Nation’s system of inland waterways and our network of ports for the transport of coal throughout the country and, indeed, the world. This legislation, approved by the House, authorizes needed funding for the modernization of these watery corridors of commerce so that our commodities can reach overseas markets efficiently and support job growth in our state.”
West Virginia is the Nation’s leading coal exporter, with more than $5 billion in exports last year, much of which relied on water infrastructure to reach foreign buyers.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. waterways and ports directly support 9,890 jobs in the Mountain State and contribute $1.6 billion to West Virginia’s economy.
The Port of Huntington Tri-State alone moves 45 million tons of coal annually and supports more than 12,000 jobs.
“The world market for coal is growing,” said Rahall. “But, in order to meet that increased demand, we need to be able to transport our coal reliably. Just like our roads and bridges, the locks and dams on the Ohio River and across the Nation’s inland waterways need to be maintained. The ports which our exports travel through need shipping channels deepened and harbors dredged. These are the types of investments in our infrastructure that create jobs and a more competitive Nation.”
“Fundamentally, this bill is about jobs,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“Not just the jobs in constructing these improvements to our infrastructure, but current and future jobs that will depend on a modern, efficient transportation system that will allow American businesses to compete and prosper in a global marketplace.”
“As pleased as I am to see the House pass this pro-jobs bill, I am just as proud of the manner in which it was crafted,” Rahall continued.
“Chairman Shuster and I worked cooperatively to produce a bill that received unanimous support in our Committee and which garnered overwhelming bipartisan support in the full House. This bill is an example of the type of progress we can make when Congress puts the rhetoric aside and concentrates on results that benefit our country and not just our political parties.”
The Senate has passed a similar Water Resources bill earlier this year.
Press Release, October 30, 2013