Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Administration Provides Infrastructure Law Guidebook

Washington, D.C.—The Biden administration released its first edition of a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law guidebook to provide a “one-stop shop” to help local and state governments and tribes access the more than 375 programs in the trillion-dollar law.

“Our primary goal with this is to help our partners across the country know what to apply for, who to contact for help and how to get ready to rebuild,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

In addition to details on how the $16.7 billion in the law will improve infrastructure at coastal ports, inland ports and waterways and land ports of entry, the section on ports and waterways includes information on what potential recipients can do now to prepare to receive the funding.

Go to www.whitehouse.gov/build/ to read the 400-plus-page guidebook.

“In the coming weeks, we plan to publish subsequent versions of this document to keep our partners up to date on the latest deadlines and details,” the administration stated.

Responding to questions about the law’s implementation, Psaki said more than $80 billion has already been allocated and is headed to states, territories and local governments.

Port Assistance

The White House continues to promote the administration’s work with ports.

 Press secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with the Port of Oakland to set up a new 25-acre pop-up site to make it easier for agricultural companies to fill empty shipping containers with commodities such as American soybeans, dairy, nuts and fruit.

She said the USDA and the Department of Transportation also continue to call on ocean carriers to mitigate disruptions to agricultural shippers by restoring full and fair service to the Port of Oakland, which she described as underutilized.

Port Infrastructure Grants

During his appearance before the National Governors Association, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg addressed questions on timing and port infrastructure.

“The Port Infrastructure Development Program has the benefit of being an existing program that just got added to in scale. For that reason, we will be able to move quite quickly,” Buttigieg said, citing the recent announcement of grants.

“We are very close to being able to take applications for the new rounds, and will do so at a level of funding we have not had before.”

He said President Biden has “put us on a clock” on the Port Action Plan he initiated.

RAISE Grants

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a $1.5 billion funding opportunity through its popular Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program, which has been boosted by roughly $500 million by the recent bipartisan infrastructure law.

DOT pointed out that new provisions this year will mean applications will be evaluated on the criteria of mobility and community connectivity.

Proposed projects also will be assessed for universal design, accessibility for travelers and mobility for freight and supply chain efficiency, DOT said.

At least $15 million will be guaranteed to projects located in areas of persistent poverty or historically disadvantaged communities, and RAISE expanded the number of communities eligible for 100 percent federal share of funding, specifically those in rural areas.

Under the official Notice of Funding Opportunity, the deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Eastern on April 14 with selections to be announced no later than August 12.

Corps R&D Strategy

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers produced a new enterprise research and development (R&D) strategy that will address the nation’s most complex engineering challenges.

 “It’s my firm belief that we will not ‘build our way’ out of many of the challenges we face—we have to think, innovate and engineer our way out,” said Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, 55th chief of engineers and Corps commanding general.

“To do that, we’ll need new, improved and, in some cases, yet-to-be-discovered tools and technologies that only a robust and responsive R&D program can deliver.”

Described as a strategic collaborative effort, it charges divisions to take a whole-of-government approach to achieve goals, including mitigating climate change, winning future wars, modernizing the nation’s infrastructure, supporting resilient communities, improving cyber and physical security and defending the Arctic.

LNG Facilities Final Rule

The Coast Guard issued its final rule amending regulations concerning waterfront facilities handling liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied hazardous gas (LHG).

Effective March 4, the rule makes three changes to allow waterfront facilities handling LNG as fuel to conduct an operational risk assessment instead of a waterway suitability assessment (WSA) without first obtaining Captain of the Port approval, update incorporated technical standards to reflect the most recent published editions and require waterfront facilities that must comply with WSA requirements to provide information on vessels transporting natural gas and their crew.

For additional information, contact Ken Smith at 202-372-1413.

NMERPAC Virtual Meeting

The Office of Merchant Mariner Credentialing is hosting a virtual intersessional meeting February 16-17 of the National Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (NMERPAC) subcommittee on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault–Prevention and Culture Change in the Merchant Marine.

Scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. EST, the subcommittee’s two-hour sessions will meet through Microsoft Teams on both days.

NMERPAC makes recommendations to the secretary of Homeland Security through the commandant of the Coast Guard on matters relating to Merchant Marine personnel training, qualifications, certification, documentation and fitness of mariners.

Anyone who is not part of the NMERPAC e-mailing list and would like to attend the sessions should contact Megan Johns Henry at megan.c.johns@uscg.mil

Subchapter M Deadline

The Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance (CG-CVC) reminded towing vessel owners and operators of a “fast approaching” deadline for 100 percent Subchapter M phase-in and to schedule vessel initial inspections as soon as possible and no later than April 20.

All towing vessels meeting the applicability criteria found in 46 CFR § 136.105 must have on board a valid Certificate of Inspection (COI) issued by the Coast Guard no later than July 19, the CG-CVC stated.

Failure to meet vessel certification requirements, the agency added, may result in CG-835V deficiencies, vessel delays, civil penalties or additional enforcement actions.

“Please note that Coast Guard attendance is required for initial certification for both the Coast Guard Option and Towing Safety Management System (TSMS) Option, as described in 46 CFR § 136.130,” the CG-CVC said.

“Application for inspection should be made using the CG-Form 3752, “Application for Inspection of a U.S. Vessel.” 

Additional information can be found on the Coast Guard’s Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise (TVNCOE) website.