US Ports Praise Water Resources Bill’s Move toward Congress Vote

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)  welcomed news that the U.S. House-Senate conference committee has completed negotiations and issued its report on the long-awaited and critically-needed water resources development legislation.

US House of Reps (Illustration)

Upon learning the 2014 Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) is on its way to Congress for approval, AAPA immediately sent appreciation and congratulations to conference committee leaders Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) for their bipartisan leadership in bringing a negotiated water resources bill to the floor of Congress.

Both Sen. Boxer and Rep. Shuster were jointly named AAPA’s “Port Person of the Year” in March for advancing this crucial legislation, although both chose to wait to receive their award until the bill made it successfully out of conference for a final vote of Congress.

“Having waited seven long years since passage of the last water resources authorization bill, our U.S. member ports are extremely pleased to see a final reauthorization bill,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle. “Our nation desperately needs this water resources legislation to fortify our infrastructure, create and maintain good-paying U.S. jobs, grow our economy and enhance America’s international competitiveness.”

Mr. Nagle noted that more than a quarter of America’s annual GDP is accounted for by international trade.

In order to strengthen the U.S. economy, we must ensure these goods can move efficiently in and out of America’s ports, without avoidable and costly delays caused by inadequate or poorly maintained infrastructure. The WRRDA authorization bill helps some of the critical waterside needs facing this nation.”

The bipartisan water resources legislation has a number of provisions that address the needs of America’s seaports. In particular, it:

  • Establishes a pathway to full use of the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT);
  • Addresses HMT donor equity;
  • Modernizes the maintenance dredging cost-share threshold;
  • Authorizes new navigation channel improvements;
  • Expedites the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation channel study completion process;
  • Quickens the pace of project completions by enhancing partnerships.

Summarizing, Mr. Nagle said, “America’s public ports – which create jobs for more than 13 million people and handle 99.4 percent of the tonnage of our nation’s overseas trade – together with their private-sector partners are investing over $9 billion annually in marine terminal infrastructure. We look forward to Congressional passage and President Obama signing this legislation, which will make important policy reforms and authorize badly needed maintenance and improvements to waterside connections with seaports.”

Press Release, May 16, 2014; Image: Wikimedia

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