Senators Push for Harbor Maintenance Funding
U.S. Senator David Vitter led 18 Senators in a bipartisan letter urging the Senate Appropriations Committee leadership to set the funding levels for harbor maintenance at the levels authorized in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).
“We need to make investments where there will be the greatest impact – and that means ports and waterways infrastructure. These investments improve local Louisiana communities and our national economy and they are a key to our future – a vibrant Louisiana future,” Vitter said. “Keeping our ports and waterways dredged and maintained creates good paying middle class jobs, increases trade, and adds more than $200 billion annually in federal, state and local tax revenues.”
Yesterday, Vitter received the American Association of Port Authorities’ (AAPA) 2015 “Port Person of the Year” award. AAPA is recognizing Vitter for his work passing WRRDA in 2014, and his work to assist for America’s ports and waterways.
The text of Vitter’s letter
“More than $1.8 billion in annual HMT revenue is being collected specifically to meet the nation’s annual authorized harbor maintenance needs for harbors of all sizes. Unfortunately, annual appropriations have been significantly less than annual collections, resulting in harbors and navigation channels getting narrower and shallower due to accumulating sediment, declining dredged material disposal area capacity and deteriorating harbor structures such as breakwaters and jetties due to inadequate funding.
“Harbors and navigation channels are a vital part of our nation’s transportation infrastructure, and the elimination or reduction in their capacity can have significant impacts on local communities and economies as well as the national economy. WRRDA 2014 recognizes the national need to increase use of HMT collections to benefit all navigation projects, high and moderate use, emerging, underserved and Great Lakes ports, along with expanded uses at donor ports.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reported that nationwide authorized channel depths are available about half of the time, and then only over half of the channel’s width. This drives up the cost of U.S. exports and imports, which threatens U.S. economic growth, and increases the risk of vessel groundings and associated oil spills.
“Many U.S. exports compete in a very price-sensitive global market where transportation inefficiencies mean losing business to other countries. It is vitally important that the WRRDA HMT commitment be met.”