Washington Waves
Washington Waves

EPA Launches $3 Billion Clean Ports Program

Washington, D.C.—The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a $3 billion Clean Ports Program to fund zero-emission equipment and infrastructure, tackle the climate crisis and improve air quality at both coastal and inland ports.

“Our nation’s ports are among the busiest in the world, helping us to create good jobs here in America, move goods and grow our economy,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

The EPA released two separate Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) as part of the $3 billion effort. The nearly $2.8 billion Zero-Emission Technology Deployment Competition will fund zero-emission port equipment and infrastructure to reduce mobile source emissions. The roughly $150 million Climate and Air Quality Planning Competition will fund climate and air quality planning activities.

Funding for the two grant competitions is available to port authorities and state, regional, local and tribal agencies.

May 28 is the deadline to apply for the two Clean Ports Program NOFOs, and eligible applicants can apply for funding through one or both NOFOs.

To learn more about the Clean Ports Program, visit the program’s website at www.epa.gov/ports-initiative/cleanports or contact CleanPorts@epa.gov.

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) applauded the EPA’s announcement but expressed concern over “strict enforcement” of equipment procurement rules.

“The industry is beyond thrilled to apply for federal investments via EPA’s Clean Ports Program,” AAPA President and CEO Cary Davis said, citing $50 billion in planned alternative energy projects at U.S. seaports.

However, Davis added, strict enforcement of equipment procurement rules will hamper the program because the American supply chain for electric port equipment is just not mature.

”We strongly support EPA’s efforts to allow for sourcing from our allies because it is ultimately great for growing a prosperous America,” he said.

Funding Agreement

Congressional leaders announced an agreement on fiscal year 2024 appropriations to keep federal agencies funded and avoid a partial government shutdown.

“Negotiators have come to an agreement on six bills: Agriculture-FDA, Commerce-Justice and Science, Energy and Water Development, Interior, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD,” the statement announced. “After preparing final text, this package of six full-year appropriations bills will be voted on and enacted prior to March 8.”

According to the statement, the remaining six appropriations bills—Defense, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Labor-HHS, Legislative Branch and State and Foreign Operations—will be finalized, voted on and enacted prior to March 22.

The agreement also calls for another short-term continuing resolution to fund agencies through March 8 and March 22 to give appropriators time to finish their work.

Released by the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the announcement also included the names of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

WRDA Support

Both the chairman and ranking member of a key Senate committee expressed a strong commitment to approving another biennial Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) this year.

But Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) also made it clear that WRDA 2024 also will be used to address provisions approved in previous WRDAs but still not implemented.

“While the last three WRDA bills have been transformative, implementation of these laws is taking longer than expected. A good deal longer,” said Carper, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Ranking member Capito echoed that concern over delayed WRDA provisions dating back years.

“These processes need to move forward in a timely, predictable manner so that communities can realize the benefits of these projects for a whole lot of reasons,” she said.

Capito repeated statements that WRDA 2024 will not be “policy-heavy” but instead will focus on studies and projects as well as technical changes in prior provisions to better reflect congressional intent.     

Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor and Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, chief of Engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, appeared before the panel.

Users Board To Meet

The Inland Waterways Users Board (IWUB) is scheduled to meet April 11 in Springfield, Va., to provide independent advice and recommendations to the secretary of the Army on construction and rehabilitation project investments on the commercial navigation features of the inland waterways system of the United States.

Open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 9 a.m. at the Hilton Springfield Hotel, 6550 Loisdale Road, Springfield, VA 22150.

An online virtual portion of the IWUB meeting can be accessed at https://usace1.webex.com/meet/ndc.nav. Public Call-in: USA Toll-Free 844–800–2712, USA Caller Paid/ International Toll: 1–669–234–1177 Access Code: 199 117 3596, Security Code 1234.

At this meeting, the agenda will include an update on the Users Board Annual Report for 2023; the status of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF); Fiscal Year 2024 funding for navigation and the 2025 president’s budget for navigation; and updates on inland waterways projects.

Written comments must be received at least five business days prior to the meeting.

For additional information on submitting comments or special accommodations, contact Paul Clouse at 202-768-3157 or Paul.D.Clouse@usace.army.mil.