Washington Waves
Washington Waves

$1.1 Billion Worth Of Infrastructure Projects Announced

Washington, D.C.—Ports across the United States will benefit from $1.1 billion in “transformational” infrastructure projects announced by President Joe Biden as part of his Investing in America agenda.

They include:

• Humboldt County, Calif., $426.7 million, to rehabilitate a defunct marine terminal to boost the area’s maritime industry and establish the first offshore wind terminal on the Pacific Coast.

• The Port of New Orleans, $300 million, for a new international container terminal in Louisiana that will be an alternative to terminals located farther inland on the Mississippi River that cannot accommodate larger vessels. It will be outfitted with a 1,700-foot wharf, an automated stacking crane yard, utilities, operations buildings, gates and an intermodal rail yard (See WJ, January 29).

• Long Beach, Calif., $283.3 million, to complete the Pier B on-dock rail support facility program to enhance container-on-rail service to and from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, facilitating 20 percent of container throughput at the ports that moves exclusively by rail.

• Stuart, Fla., $130.5 million, to replace the 100-year-old St. Lucie River Railroad Bridge to divert freight traffic to rail and increase safety for marine traffic.

• Georgia Ports Authority, $15 million, to replace a port berth and two vessel berths at the Port of Brunswick’s East River Terminal.

• Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, $13 million, to build a two-lane bridge to connect Packer Avenue Marine Terminal to an adjacent site, improving safety for port workers and efficiencies in port operations.

• Ohio Department of Transportation, $8.7 million, to construct access management and safety improvements over SR7 Marietta to the river port on the Ohio River.

They were part of an announcement by Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg that included 37 projects totaling $4.9 billion.

Funding came from through two major discretionary grant programs, the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) grant program and the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program.

PIDP Funding

The Maritime Administration (MarAd) posted a Notice of Funding Opportunity announcing the availability of up to $450 million for Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) funding.

MarAd added it intends to amend its notice by February16 and include complete program requirements and application information.

Applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 30 through Grants.gov.

For further information concerning the notice, contact the PIDP at PIDPgrants@dot.gov or call Wade Morefield at 202-366-6025.

Red Sea Shipping Attacks

Witnesses representing shipping and merchant mariners testified at a House hearing about the sophistication of the attacks against commercial ships in the Red Sea region.

“The world has never seen attacks like these by non-state actors on commercial shipping,” said Charles “Bud” Darr, executive vice president of the Mediterranean Shipping Company.

“These attacks employ powerful long-range sophisticated weapons—typically only possessed by nation states—including ballistic and anti-ship cruise missiles and one-way attack drones.”

David Heindel, president of the Seafarers International Union (SIU) and the Maritime Trades Department (AFL-CIO), said the attacks represent the greatest combat threat to the United States Merchant Marine since the Vietnam War.

“Not since the Second World War has there been such prolonged, indiscriminate targeting of merchant shipping,” Heindel said.

So far, he added, no issues have arisen on crewing vessels heading into the Red Sea because of the attacks.

“This fact highlights one of the messages we have been communicating to Congress for decades—the continued need for a United States Merchant Marine, crewed by American citizens,” Heindel said.

The Federal Maritime Commission, which previously announced an informal hearing on the impact of the conditions in the Red Sea region, said the 10 a.m. EST hearing on February 7 and, if needed, February 8, will be live streamed on its YouTube channel.

CWA Permitting

A divided House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee narrowly approved a bill that supporters say will make the permitting process under the Clean Water Act more consistent and transparent and speed up critical transportation and energy projects.

Approved by a vote of 32 to 30, H.R. 7023, the Creating Confidence in Clean Water Permitting Act, advanced to the full House.

Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said current law has been weaponized to keep projects from moving forward.

Graves offered assurances the measure, which includes five stand-alone bills previously introduced, will not weaken protections in the Clean Water Act.

Democrats disputed that claim.

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), the panel’s ranking member, said the changes proposed in the bill go too far.

“Unfortunately, the Republican majority also continued their ill-advised attacks on the Clean Water Act,” Larsen said.

LNG Export Pause

President Joe Biden announced a pause on pending approvals of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, citing the “devastating toll” of climate change.

“During this period, we will take a hard look at the impacts of LNG exports on energy costs, America’s energy security and our environment,” the president said.

“This pause on new LNG approvals sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time.”

Biden’s announcement triggered a strong response that was somewhat bipartisan.

“Let me be crystal clear: America’s LNG policy should be based on facts, not politics,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Manchin vowed to try and end the pause immediately if the Biden administration failed to produce proof that additional LNG export capacity would hurt Americans.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), announced he will block Biden’s nominees to the departments of State and Energy until the president stops the hostility toward LNG production.

Biden’s move earned praise from other Democrats in Congress.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) called the action good news for American consumers.

“It will increase the supply of domestic natural gas, which should create downward pressure on prices for Americans to heat their homes and power their businesses,” Reed said.