Washington, D.C.—The White House has announced another $2.7 billion to fund U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects throughout the country as part of its effort to strengthen ports and waterways.
A separate announcement posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers covered additional civil works studies, projects and programs the Corps will implement with the previously announced $22.81 billion provided by the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022.
Michael Connor, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, described as transformative that work, which is expected in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.
Major projects listed in the White House announcement included $92.6 million to upgrade locks on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS); $77 million for the Upper Ohio River project to construct new lock chambers at Emsworth Locks and Dam; $72 million to widen and deepen the Norfolk Harbor navigation channel; $11 million for the Port of Galveston in Texas for deepening a portion of the Galveston Harbor Channel; and $68 million to deepen the Brazos Island Harbor Channel at the Port of Brownsville in Texas.
A fact sheet released by the White House said the projects will reduce congestion on inland waterways, move more goods faster, bolster resilience to climate change and advance environmental justice.
In addition to the previously announced work, the Corps plans to fund construction of an additional 27 projects and provide further funding for five previously announced projects in FY 2022, and four shore protection projects in FY 2023.
The Army also plans to fund to completion an additional five studies and one design phase and completion of a previously announced design phase.
Coast Guard Authorization
The House overwhelmingly approved a Coast Guard authorization bill that supporters say addresses unfair shipping practices, supply chain congestion, vessel safety, a culture of sexual abuse in the maritime industry and legal loopholes that work against the Jones Act.
Passed by a vote of 378 to 46, the Don Young Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2022 now goes to the Senate.
H.R. 6865 was named in honor of the late Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the dean of the House who died only days earlier and was lying in state in Statuary Hall as the measure was passed by the chamber he served in longer than any other Republican in history.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the bill also reauthorizes the Federal Maritime Commission, boosts its budget by 10 percent, provides the authority to address unfair shipping practices by companies and encourages reciprocal trade.
Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, said the bill includes his provisions to amend an “archaic” 171-year-old maritime law and allow victims and their families to seek fair recourse against vessel owners found liable for maritime incidents.
Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), ranking member of the subcommittee, noted the measure secures authorization for a new icebreaker to keep commerce moving on the Great Lakes for as much of the year as possible.
Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) said the bill includes long overdue language to close loopholes to the Jones Act that allow foreign vessels to undercut American-flagged vessels operating in America’s offshore environment and the intercontinental shelf.
FY 2023 Budget
Largely viewed as a symbolic act, President Joe Biden submitted his budget for fiscal year 2023 to Congress.
It would provide $6.6 billion in gross discretionary funding for the U.S. Corps of Engineers Civil Works program.
Investigations would receive $105.9 million; construction, $1.2 billion; operation and maintenance, $2.5 billion; regulatory program, $210 million; and Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T), $225 million.
More than $3 billion would be provided for the study, design, construction, operation and maintenance of inland and coastal navigation projects.
“These significant investments will facilitate safe, reliable and environmentally sustainable commercial navigation at our nation’s coastal ports and inland waterways,” said a Corps statement.
”Nearly $14 million will be provided from the [Inland Waterways Trust Fund], and $1.7 billion from the [Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund], which the budget proposes to execute within the trust fund accounts rather than to transfer and execute them from the other appropriations accounts.”
The Maritime Administration is seeking comments on its Every Mariner Builds a Respectful Culture (EMBARC) standards on sexual assault and harassment prevention and response criteria for commercial vessel operators approved to carry U.S. Merchant Marine Academy cadets.
Comments must be received by May 31 and may be submitted online, by email, mail or hand delivery.
For additional information, contact Chris Wahler at 202-366-5469.
Great Lakes Pilotage Rates
The Coast Guard is issuing new base Great Lakes pilotage rates for the 2022 shipping season and estimates it will result in a 7 percent increase in pilotage operating costs compared to those in the 2021 season.
Accounting for changes in the district operating expenses, an increase in the number of pilots and anticipated inflation, the final rule is effective April 29.
In addition, the Coast Guard stated this rule will make a policy change to round up in the staffing model, adding it is also making methodology changes to factor in an apprentice pilot’s compensation benchmark for the estimated number of apprentice pilots.
For additional information, contact Commandant Brian Rogers at 202-372-1535.
Ballast Water Systems
The Coast Guard announces the availability of the final policy letter that describes type-approval testing methods for ballast water management systems that render organisms nonviable in ballast water.
In consideration of public comments on a draft policy letter, the Coast Guard stated the final policy letter establishes the mechanism for reviewing and integrating viability testing methods into the existing type approval testing program.
The Coast Guard invited submissions of viability of testing methods, adding the letter is subject to revision.
To view the final policy letter, as well as comments available in the docket, go to www.regulations.gov.
For additional information, contact Matthew Reudelhuber at 202-372-1432.