A job well done! Breaking news from the Waterways Council Inc:
"This afternoon, in a roll call vote of 83-14, the long-overdue Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), S. 601, passed the Senate. WCI expresses its gratitude to Senate Environment & Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA) for their collaborative efforts to draft, manage and pass the critically important bill. WCI is also especially grateful for the inclusion of several provisions of the RIVER (Reinvesting In Vital Economic Rivers and Waterways) Act, S. 407, introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and co-sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS).
Of specific interest to inland waterways stakeholders, the Senate-passed WRDA bill contains provisions to remove the over-budget and long-delayed Olmsted lock and dam project from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF), the remainder of the cost to be paid 100% by general treasury revenue and not cost-shared 50-50 through the IWTF. This action will free up around $750 million to the IWTF to complete critical priority navigation projects.
An increase in the threshold for major rehabilitation, from the current $14 million to $20 million, was approved.
Also included in the WRDA bill is prioritization of navigation projects and revamping of project delivery processes to achieve on time and within budget performance. Prioritization is based upon risk of failure and benefits to the nation with an emphasis on finishing projects already underway and ensuring that funding is available to efficiently complete work. Ensuring that future Corps’ estimates for project costs have a confidence level of at least 80% is also included.
Passage of increased funding for inland port dredging to be released from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund was also welcomed by the industry in the final WRDA bill.
Not included in the Senate WRDA bill is the industry-supported provision to increase the diesel fuel user fee. The Constitution requires that revenue enhancement measures originate in the House of Representatives, therefore this provision must originate in the House version of WRDA or be added to some other revenue measure.
Special thanks for the strong support on passage of WRDA to all of our operator and shipper members, our stakeholders in the agriculture, agribusiness, manufacturing, labor and jobs sectors, and to the ports community. It has helped to make the difference to move this critical bill forward.
Now onto the House…!"
Thank you for support from AEP River Operations!