Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Senate Passes Inflation Reduction Act

Washington, D.C.—The Senate approved the Democrats’ sweeping climate, health and tax package that includes $3 billion to help install electrified equipment and reduce emissions at U.S. ports.

Passed by a 51-50 vote with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie, the newly renamed Inflation Reduction Act goes back to the House to receive final congressional approval.

H.R. 5376 then goes to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) described the five-year grant program as an enormous win for the nation’s port industry and supply chains.

“It provides a brand-new source of funding for ports seeking to purchase electrified or alternative-fueled cargo-handling equipment, shore power systems, microgrids for energy resiliency, electric grid infrastructure and more,” AAPA stated.

“This pivotal investment of federal capital will make U.S. ports more resilient to extreme weather events like heat waves and storms, including through the construction of microgrids.”

Last year, AAPA and ports across the country sent a letter to leading Democrats expressing support for including a port electrification grant program in their reconciliation package.

Such a port industry-specific program will lead to faster installation of the infrastructure critical to creating a sustainable maritime transportation industry, they stated.

AAPA said the new grant program demonstrates the federal government’s “unprecedented attention to port infrastructure needs.”

A survey of AAPA’s members suggested that American ports have $50 billion worth of green infrastructure projects ready to build over the next decade.

Noting the gap in funding, AAPA said the new grant program will signal to equipment manufacturers and private investors that this electrification technology at ports will be ubiquitous in the coming years.

Other provisions in the reconciliation package cited by AAPA include tax credits for clean energy solutions such as offshore wind and hydrogen energy; a $60 million allocation to the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant program, which is intended specifically for goods movement; a $2.6 billion allocation to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the protection of marine habitats and resilience for coastal communities from extreme storms; and $1 billion for the replacement of “Class 6 or 7” heavy-duty vehicles with zero-emission alternatives.

NEPA Changes

The Senate narrowly approved a resolution to kill the Biden administration’s effort to roll back changes made to the National Environmental Policy Act by the Trump administration.

By a vote of 50 to 47, S.J.Res. 55 was sent to the Democratic-controlled House, where it faces tough odds.

Moreover, the White House has said President Biden will veto the measure if it ever reaches his desk.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) introduced the resolution, which is co-sponsored by the 49 other Republican senators and won the vote of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on the floor.

Sullivan warned the Biden rule would bog down an already-onerous permitting process.

In promising a veto, the Statement of Administration Policy said the senator’s resolution would not only bar the government from conducting efficient environmental reviews of projects but also lead to costly litigation and more delays.

CWA Anniversary

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) kicked off a two-month tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

In addition to an event in Seattle, Wash., highlighting the Puget Sound area, the tour is scheduled to include stops at other significant bodies of water such as the Florida Everglades, Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, the San Francisco Bay and Cuyahoga River.

A 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River, one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S. at the time, helped mobilize public concern that led to the CWA, according to the EPA.

EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox noted the path charted with the passage of the CWA in 1972 as well as the foundation President Joe Biden and Congress have laid for the future with a $50 billion investment in water programs through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Maritime Security Committee

The Coast Guard is seeking applications to fill two member vacancies on the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the secretary of Homeland Security.

The two vacancies will be filled from applications submitted by facilities owners and operators and state and local governments.

Applications, including a cover letter and a resume, should reach the Coast Guard by September 6 and should be submitted via email to ryan.f.owens@uscg.mil with ‘‘Application for NMSAC’’ in the subject line.

For additional information, contact Ryan Owens at 202-372-1108 or ryan.f.owens@uscg.mil.

Medical Certificate Applications

The Coast Guard is promoting its established option for submitting medical certificate applications (CG-719K and CG-719K/E forms) directly to the National Maritime Center (NMC).

The CG-719K and CG-719 K/E forms can be sent to the NMC via e-mail at MEDAIP@uscg.mil.

 Electronic submission requirements can be found on the NMC website.

For additional information, contact the NMC Customer Service Center at IASKNMC@USCG.mil, 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662) or via the online chat system.

Regional Examination Centers will accept medical certificate application submissions as well, but for faster processing, the Coast Guard recommended that CG-719K or CG-719K/E forms be submitted directly to the NMC.