Washington Waves
Washington Waves

DOT Announces Availability $1 Billion In RAISE Grants

Washington, D.C—The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the availability of $1 billion in infrastructure funding through RAISE grants, formerly known as BUILD and TIGER grants.

“Port projects that promise to achieve national objectives” were included among those eligible for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Discretionary Grant program.

DOT stated projects for RAISE funding will be evaluated based on merit criteria that include safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, innovation and partnership.

Within these criteria, DOT explained it will prioritize projects that can demonstrate improvements to racial equity, reduce impacts of climate change and create good-paying jobs.

“In communities across the country, there is tremendous need for transportation projects that create high-quality jobs, improve safety, protect our environment, and generate equitable economic opportunity for all Americans,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

Describing the program as highly competitive, DOT said it has received 9,700 applications with 680 projects funded.

Since 2009, DOT said it has awarded $8.935 billion in grants in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

To provide technical assistance to applicants, DOT is hosting a series of webinars.

Visit www.transportation.gov/RAISEgrants/outreach to register.

Applications must be submitted by July 12 at 5 p.m. Eastern.

Surface Transportation Legislation

Two key congressional committees held hearings ahead of efforts to move major surface transportation legislation this year as President Joe Biden’s massive $2 trillion-plus infrastructure and jobs proposal continues to generate skepticism among Republican lawmakers.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, again endorsed a “big, bold infrastructure plan” after receiving testimony from 63 non-committee members laying out their districts’ needs.

“It has become even more clear that communities across the country—both urban and rural—need transformational infrastructure investments,” DeFazio said.

At least seven of the House members singled out ports, locks and dams or jetties in their testimony to the committee.

A new, 6 p.m. April 23 deadline has been set for submitting member designated projects.

Long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund was the topic for a hearing held by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“This is not an easy problem to solve,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the committee’s ranking member, said, referencing the cash shortfall the trust fund faces once again.

After Biden met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss his proposal, the White House addressed what press secretary Jen Psaki described as an unintentional “garble” and made it clear a gasoline tax hike was not under consideration.

That clarification did not help in winning over Republicans who not only dislike the increase in the corporate tax rate Biden wants to use to help pay for his proposal but his attempt to go beyond the traditional definition of what qualifies as infrastructure.

“The Biden administration has stretched the definition of infrastructure so far, it has become unrecognizable,” Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) said.

Biden and others at the White House will continue their effort to gain support for the proposal and will not be limited to members of Congress.

“Senior administration officials have also engaged with rural leaders, faith communities, and the private sector,” Psaki said.

“They’ve held briefings with bipartisan groups of over a thousand mayors and county elected officials, and have had one-on-one conversations with governors from both parties.“

NMC Email Communications

The National Maritime Center (NMC) announced it will begin using email May 10 as the primary delivery method for course-related and program-related correspondence to training providers.

“Based on Privacy Act concerns, we remain unable to provide the same service for Designated Examiner and Qualified Assessor communications,” the FMC stated.

“Training providers should ensure the NMC has up-to-date contact information. Email NMCCourses@uscg.mil to update your contact information.”

 If an email address is not on file, the FMC added, correspondence will continue to be mailed via the U.S. Postal Service.

For additional information, contact NMCCourses@uscg.mil.

IMO Committee Prep

The Department of State has scheduled two teleconference meetings to prepare for upcoming sessions of International Maritime Organization (IMO) committees.

A meeting is set to begin at 9 a.m. May 25 to prepare for the 45th session of the IMO’s Facilitation Committee (FAL 45) to be held virtually from June 1 to June 4 and June 7.

 Members of the public may participate up to the capacity of the teleconference phone line, which will handle 500 participants. To access the teleconference line, participants should call 202- 475–4000 and use Code 115 550 18#.

Agenda items include application of single-window concept, descriptions of maritime services in the context of e-navigation, unsafe mixed migration by sea and regulatory scoping exercise for the use of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS).

 For additional information, contact James Bull at 202-372-1144.

A meeting of the Shipping Coordinating Committee is set to begin at 10 a.m. June 3 to prepare for the 76th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee sessions June 10–17.

Teleconference phone lines can handle 500 participants who can access meeting by calling 202-475-4000 and use Code 138 541 34#.

Agenda items include harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water, air pollution prevention and follow up work on the action plan addressing marine plastic litter from ships.

For additional information, contact Lt. Jessica Anderson at 202-372-1376.

Great Lakes Importance 

A joint statement issued by key U.S. and Canadian officials reaffirmed the ecological and economic importance of the Great Lakes.

“They are also critical to our economic prosperity and our well-being,” stated U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s minister of Environment and Climate Change.

“As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, first signed by the governments of Canada and the U.S. in 1972, we will be reviewing past progress and current challenges and identifying future efforts to advance restoration and protection of the Great Lakes.”

Emphasizing climate change and environmental justice, their joint statement also spoke of the International Maritime Organization strategy to halve GHG emissions from ships by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.