WCI praises House passage of Water Resources Development Act

The following is the text of a news release from the Waterways Council Inc. (WCI):

(WASHINGTON) — The Waterways Council Inc. on Wednesday praised House passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, which followed Senate passage of the bill on Sept. 15. Both House and Senate WRDA 2016 bills contain a WCI priority to authorize, with chief’s reports, Calcasieu Lock modifications in Louisiana, deepening of Brazos Island Harbor (Brownsville Ship Channel)  in Texas, and the Upper Ohio Study that allows the Emsworth, Dashields and Montgomery (EDM) lock project near Pittsburgh to advance.

Neither bill contained a provision to create a public-private partnership (P3) that could have imposed waterways tolls or lockage fees, resulting in an adverse change in the cost-sharing mechanism for the Inland Waterways Transportation System. In late 2014, commercial operators successfully increased their user fee by 45 percent to 29 cents per gallon as a way to increase investment in inland waterways lock and dam infrastructure.

After a seven-year delay between bills (WRDA 2007 to WRRDA 2014), WCI praised the committee’s leadership for the return to a two-year, regular order for WRDA legislation.

“The nation’s towboat operators, shippers, labor, port, conservation and agriculture members that rely on an efficient, modern, viable waterways system — are deeply appreciative for the House and Senate passage of WRDA 2016," said Michael Toohey, WCI president and chief executive officer. "WCI commends the bipartisan leadership of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe and ranking member Barbara Boxer; Transportation Subcommittee Chairman David Vitter; House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and ranking member Peter DeFazio; and Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs and ranking subcommittee member Grace Napolitano.

“We urge a good outcome on a conference report and for President Obama to sign a WRDA 2016 bill into law to create and sustain American jobs, increase exports, keep our nation competitive in world markets, and enhance the reliability of this essential waterways transportation mode," he said. 

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.        

By Professional Mariner Staff