Brownwater News, October 2019

AAPA faults funding cut in port infrastructure program

Port executives from across the United States gathered in Washington, D.C., in late September to voice their legislative concerns, among them a decrease in funding for the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development program.

The American Association of Port Authorities’ “fly-in” is a biannual effort to bring issues directly to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. A Senate vote to cut funding for the MarAd grants from the current $287 million to $91.6 million in fiscal 2020 was a particular hot point.

“The Port Infrastructure Development grants are the first program aimed solely at port infrastructure needs,” said Susan Monteverde, AAPA’s vice president of government relations. “We urge Congress to grow the program, not cut it.”

In the first round of applications, U.S. coastal ports requested approximately $1 billion in infrastructure grants, showcasing what the AAPA called an “overwhelming need.” The organization’s fiscal 2020 recommendation for the program is $300 million.

Other priorities for “fly-in” participants included implementing AAPA’s solution for Harbor Maintenance Tax spending reform as part of the next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), and fiscal 2020 funding levels for the Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Transportation, and Environmental Protection Agency.

AAPA members questioned recent requests from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for ports to pay for upgrades at CBP facilities. The group reported that a Senate appropriations panel had directed CBP to work directly with industry on the issue.

Despite the concerns, AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle said he was pleased with the reception for port officials from policymakers and their staffs.

“AAPA has worked hard to advance the interests of its member ports on Capitol Hill, and delegations like this help amplify (our) messages about what federal officials can do to ensure our nation’s ports are successful,” he said.

Army Corps identifies projects for flood-relief funding

The Army Corps of Engineers announced on Sept. 25 that it will tap $3.2 billion in federal disaster-relief funding to repair damage from recent flooding in dozens of states.

The Additional Supplemental Appropriations Disaster Relief Act, signed into law in June, provides the Corps with funds through five accounts: investigations, construction, Mississippi River and tributaries, operation and maintenance, and flood control and coastal emergencies.

“The allocation of funds … will enable the Corps to repair the damage caused by this past year’s weather events so these vital projects can protect citizens and flood-prone property in the future,” said R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

The projects include dredging and shoaling mitigation. The current list is posted at under “Supplemental Appropriations for Disasters 2019” and “Short-Term Repairs.”

National Waterways Conference names new president

The board of directors of the National Waterways Conference (NWC) has named Julie Ufner as the group’s new president and CEO, replacing longtime leader Amy Larson. The change is effective Nov. 4.

Since 2002, Ufner has served as associate legislative director for environment, energy and land use at the National Association of Counties. She said her goal at NWC is to build on Larson’s successes and those of its membership.

“NWC is the only national organization advocating for water resources issues with a collective membership representing navigation, flood control, water supply, hydropower, and recreation sectors,” she said. “I am honored to become part of this well-respected organization.”

In announcing the appointment, NWC Chairman David Yarbrough, director of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, called Ufner a “successful policy advocate” who is “well respected for her stakeholder engagement and partnership-building acumen.”

Larson, who was named NWC president in 2008, praised the board’s selection and the support she has received during her tenure.

“My decision to step down was not easy, but I know that NWC will continue as the nation’s premier water resources organization under Julie’s leadership,” she said.

AAPA lists seminars and conferences for 2020

In addition to its annual convention and Latin American Congress of Ports, the American Association of Port Authorities has scheduled eight maritime industry training seminars and conferences for 2020.

The lineup includes the Shifting Trade workshop in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 29-30; the information technology-focused Smart Ports seminar in Los Angeles on Feb. 5-6; the AAPA spring conference in Washington, D.C., on March 17-19; the biennial Finance Seminar, in partnership with SAP Concur, in Seattle on April 15-16; the port leadership-focused Commissioners and Governing Boards Seminar in New York City on May 6-7; a Marine Terminal Management Training session in Miami on May 18-22; the Port Security Seminar and Expo in San Diego on July 15-17; and the Energy & Environment Seminar in New Orleans on Oct. 28-29.

AAPA’s Annual Convention and Expo will be held in Quebec City on Sept. 13-16. The 2020 Latin American Congress of Ports will be held in Cartagena, Colombia, during the week of Nov. 16, with the exact days and schedule to be announced.

By Professional Mariner Staff