The following is the text of a news release from the Waterways Council Inc. (WCI):
(WASHINGTON) — Today the full Senate approved by a 90-8 vote the FY 2017 Energy & Water Development (E&WD) and Related Agencies appropriations bill, significantly increasing funding in fiscal year 2017 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Program.
Highlights of the bill are as follows:
• The overall size of the Corps’ Civil Works mission portion of the Senate bill is $6 billion and adds $1.37 million to the administration request.
• The bill increases the construction account funding level by $723.65 million to $1.81 billion.
• Within the construction account, $375.65 million is made available for Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) priority navigation projects, an amount that makes full use of estimated Inland Waterways Trust Fund annual revenues. Commercial operators support that fund through a 29-cent-per-gallon fuel tax that pays for half of new construction and major rehabilitation on the inland waterways system. Among the priority navigation projects, Olmsted Lock and Dam will receive $225 million, per the president’s request, with additional potential funding for the other projects to be allocated by the secretary of the Army taking into account WRRDA 2014 priorities.
• Investigations receives $126.5 million, which is $41.5 million above the FY ’17 request by the administration.
• On the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), WCI is requesting that $10 million be dedicated to pre-construction engineering and design (PED) for NESP, but the secretary of the Army will also decide whether to allocate these funds.
• The Corps’ operations and maintenance (O&M) account funding level is a record level at $3.17 billion, nearly $467 million higher than the administration’s requested level. Additional O&M money was provided at $700 million for flood storm damage risk reduction, shore protection, aquatic ecosystem restoration, and related Corps mission projects as authorized by law.
• $1.3 billion is provided from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). This amount surpasses the WRDDA 2014 target.
• Mississippi River and tributaries (MR&T) receives $368 million for flood damage risk reduction efforts.
WCI President Michael J. Toohey underscored the hard work of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and ranking member Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.,, Senate E&WD Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, that was key to the passage of this strong funding bill.
“Strong, effective leadership was demonstrated today in negotiating and passing this important appropriations bill that offers record funding to modernize our nation’s inland waterways transportation system. Recapitalizing this critical link in the transportation supply chain enables the U.S. to be prepared for expected export growth,” Toohey said.
Of the bill’s passage, on the Senate floor Alexander said it was “an excellent result for the American people.”
Waterways Council Inc. is the national public policy organization advocating for a modern and well-maintained national system of ports and inland waterways. The group is supported by waterways carriers, shippers, port authorities, agriculture, labor and conservation organizations, shipping associations and waterways advocacy groups from all regions of the country. For more information, visit www.waterwayscouncil.org.