Congressman Charles W. Boustany has spearheaded a letter with 121 of his House colleagues urging the House Appropriations Committee not to cut allocations from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) and hold the funding at the FY16 level.
In response to signing the letter Congressman Boustany said: “For every foot of sediment we allow to accumulate in our ports, one million dollars in economic activity is lost every day.”
“I have consistently fought to stop Congress from raiding the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for pet projects because Louisiana’s economy depends on a healthy water infrastructure. Lowering the allocation to the Fund is inconsistent with Congress’s original target, and is a step backwards we can’t afford.”
William J. Rase, Executive Director of the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District, added: “Funding the dredging of the nation’s deep-draft channels is critical to the economic health of the United States. Rep. Boustany’s steadfast support of the country’s ports is crucial to support U.S. foreign trade.”
In 2014, Congress passed the Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA), which included targets inserted by Boustany for annual incremental funding increases leading to full use of Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) revenues by FY2025.
The President’s budget anticipated HMTF revenue to be $1.662 billion, which is $225 million less than the previous year’s estimated revenue for FY16.
Due to the reduction in revenue, the Appropriations Committee has threatened to lower the amount allocated to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to properly maintain shipping channels, ports and harbors.
Boustany’s letter asks that the Appropriations Committee maintain level funding of FY16 and allocate $1.263 billion for FY17.