US Ports Worried over Trump’s Budget Cuts

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) voiced its concern over the potential of significant cuts for most federally funded, port-related programs in President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget.

Proposed for the budget chopping block is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (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 Grants Program (PSGP), which Congress last funded at USD 100 million and which provided 35 port security-related grants in fiscal 2017, is expected to experience a significant cut.

“We’re apprehensive about the fiscal 2018 budget,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO.

“Adequate federal investments into U.S. port-related infrastructure, both on the landside and waterside, are crucial for the efficient movement of goods so the nation can remain globally competitive… It’s vital the federal government uphold its end of the partnership with ports so the country can have a 21st century goods movement system in place.”

President Trump has also proposed cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget by 31 percent. EPA’s budget funds the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants.

“These federal grants have helped ports to make investments in clean diesel equipment and reduction strategies at the ports themselves, and they’ve used them to help businesses buy newer, cleaner-burning trucks, locomotives and vessels,” the association added.

While the president’s proposed budget calls for increasing the overall U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) budget 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 Continuing Resolution fiscal 2017 level.

According to Nagle, AAPA has created the America: Keep It Moving campaign, which highlights the needs and benefits of investing in seaport infrastructure.

The recommendations for the fiscal 2018 budget include:

  • Provide USD 2.9 billion for the Corps’ Navigation program, including USD 1.6 billion for the Coastal Navigation portion that covers deep-draft investigations, construction, operations and maintenance, and donor and energy transfer port activities.
  • Expand USDOT’s TIGER program, or create a new, multimodal discretionary grant program like it, and fund it at USD 1.25 billion annually.
  • Continue funding USDOT’s FAST Act programs at currently authorized levels and expand the amount of funds available for multimodal projects which is currently limited to USD 500 million a year through 2020.
  • Increase funding to USD 400 million for the PSGP and increase the number of CBP officers in the maritime environment by 500.
  • Fund DERA grants at the USD 100 million authorized level.

 

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