The U.S. president Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget request calls for a reduction in financial support to most federally funded, port-related programs, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) said.
Among the budget proposals for next year is eliminating the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) TIGER grants program, which last year awarded U.S. ports USD 61.8 million in multimodal infrastructure grants such as dock, rail and road improvements. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security’s Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), which Congress last funded at USD 100 million and which provided 35 port security-related grants in fiscal 2017, would see funding reduced to USD 47.8 million – a 52 percent cut.
President Trump has also proposed cutting the overall Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget by 31 percent, while the EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants would see an 83 percent reduction.
Authorized at USD 100 million, DERA grants are currently funded at USD 60 million, while Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget calls for USD 10 million in funding.
While the budget request calls for increasing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) funding by USD 400 million over the previous administration’s request of USD 4.6 billion, the request still represents a 16 percent decrease in the Corps budget when compared to the funds provided in the fiscal 2017 Omnibus, AAPA said.
The president’s budget estimates fiscal 2017 Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) expenditures will be USD 1.252 billion, and it targets fiscal 2018 funding at USD 965 million, a 23 percent reduction, according to AAPA.
On the other hand, AAPA said that it is encouraged by the Trump Administration’s recently announced major infrastructure initiative to support USD 1 trillion in infrastructure over 10 years, of which USD 200 billion would be in direct spending. Of that USD 200 billion, USD 5 billion is proposed for spending next year.
Over the next decade, AAPA is calling for USD 66 billion in federal funds for port-related infrastructure to ensure U.S. job creation, economic growth, safe and secure ports and tax fairness. On the waterside, AAPA recommends investing USD 33.8 billion to maintain and modernize deep-draft shipping channels, and USD 32.03 billion to build road and rail connections to ports and improve port facility infrastructure.
“While encouraged by the prospect of a sizable infrastructure investment program being considered, we’re concerned about the significant reductions proposed for fiscal 2018 in many of the programs critically important to ports, such as TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) discretionary grants, HMTF (Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund) outlays, port security grants, and assistance in reducing diesel emissions,” AAPA president and CEO Kurt Nagle said.
”The port industry has identified a need of $66 billion in federal investments to port-related infrastructure over that time. Ports and their private sector partners plan to invest $155 billion over the next five years alone in port facility infrastructure, and it’s vital that supporting federal investments be made, primarily to improve the waterside and landside connections to our nation’s ports.”