Washington Waves
Washington Waves

MarAd Announces Record Port Grant Funding

Washington, D.C.—A record investment of nearly $450 million in available grant funding through the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) has been announced by the Maritime Administration (MarAd).

Made possible by the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that included $17 billion for ports and waterways, MarAd said, the grants can help ports expand capacity and improve the movement of goods through supply chains.

They nearly double the last year’s investment in PIDP for states and authorities.

MarAd stated the grants demonstrate continued action on commitments in the Biden administration’s Port Action Plan, which will strengthen supply chains to meet demand resulting from the rapid economic recovery over the past year and help address inflationary pressures.

The Transportation Department’s one-year supply chain report focused on improving the movement of goods from ships to shelves was scheduled to be released soon after the PIDP announcement.

MarAd’s announcement followed by two months the award of more than $241 million in grant funding for 25 projects to improve port facilities in 19 states and one territory through PIDP.

“President Biden is leading the largest ever federal investment in modernizing our country’s ports, which will improve our supply chains and the lives of Americans who depend on them,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

The deadline to submit an application for the Port Infrastructure Development Program is May 16.

To provide technical assistance, the department is expected to host a series of webinars explaining the Port Infrastructure Development Program grant application process.

Details and registration information regarding the webinars will be made available on MarAd’s website at www.maritime.dot.gov/.

For additional information, email PIDPgrants@dot.gov or visit www.maritime.dot.gov/PIDPgrants.

First 100 Days

The White House released a fact sheet marking the 100 days of progress since President Biden’s bill-signing ceremony for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Key takeaways for the waterways industry:

• The Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) will invest $2.25 billion over the next 10 years in the nation’s critical port infrastructure.

• The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced $14 billion to strengthen supply chains, improve waterways and bolster climate resilience in fiscal year 2022 for more than 500 projects across 52 states and territories using funds from the law and other appropriations.

• Nearly $100 billion has been announced to states, territories, tribes and local governments from formula and competitive programs for ports, roads, bridges, airports and water systems.

Another nearly $50 billion in requests for information and notices of funding availability also has been released.

• The Environmental Protection Agency announced $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, including $200 million in fiscal year 2022 to accelerate the cleanup and restoration of the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites.

In separate remarks in Ohio, Biden said: “It’s going to allow the most significant restoration of the Great Lakes in the history of the Great Lakes.”

Stopgap Measure Signed

President Biden signed another stopgap measure into law that funds the government through March 11 and gives appropriators more time to come up with a bipartisan omnibus spending package.

Approved earlier by the House, H.R. 6617 easily won final congressional approval from the Senate on a 65–27 vote.

It followed an earlier announcement by leading appropriators of a framework that is expected to guide ongoing negotiations on an omnibus package.

 So far, few details of that framework have been revealed.

“We are making progress under our omnibus framework, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Shipper Advisory Committee

The National Shipper Advisory Committee (NSAC) is scheduled to meet March 9 by video conference on advising the Federal Maritime Commission on competitiveness, reliability, integrity and fairness of the international ocean freight delivery system.

NSAC specifically will hear from its subcommittees on data sharing and visibility and fees and surcharges.

Set to begin at 1 p.m. Eastern, the meeting will be accessible to members of the public who register by 5 p.m. Eastern on March 4, but they are encouraged to submit requests in advance of the deadline.

The number of lines may be limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Requests to register should be submitted to nsac@fmc.gov.

Members of the public also can submit written comments to NSAC at any time.

 For additional information, contact Dylan Richmond at 202-523-5810.

MMC Verification

The Coast Guard assistant commandant for Prevention Policy published Marine Safety Information Bulletin 01-22 (MSIB) to discuss the process of verifying the validity of merchant mariner credentials (MMCs) and endorsements for current and prospective employees.

For a maritime employer, the MSIB stated, knowing how to verify the validity of MMCs is important when deciding whether to hire, promote or discipline a merchant mariner and to ensure the overall safety of maritime operations.

“As such, the United States Coast Guard has implemented new control measures to ensure mariners inform their marine employer of the status of their MMC following administrative enforcement action by the USCG,” the MSIB stated.

Recommendations are provided to assist marine employers in determining whether mariners are qualified to serve in specific shipboard roles and duties such as using the Merchant Mariner Verification Tool to periodically verify the validity of employees’ MMCs and reporting any information on credentialing fraud or other federal crimes to the Coast Guard, which can be done anonymously to the Coast Guard Investigative Service.