Waterways Council and AAPA Both Applaud Passage of 2007 Water Resources Bill

American Association of Port Authorities Statement:

Representatives of public seaports in the United States today are lauding Congress for passing HR 1495, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007, citing it as long overdue legislation that addresses a seven-year backlog of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers programs, including navigation projects, policies and procedures that are necessary to keep pace with today's burgeoning trade.

Late yesterday, the Senate approved by a vote of 81 to 12 a House-Senate conference report for the WRDA, which the House adopted Aug. 1 by a vote of 381-40. “AAPA and our member ports have worked hard to get this crucial piece of legislation through Congress, and today we are extremely pleased that our efforts have been successful,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA's president and CEO. "America's ports depend upon a regular, biennial cycle of new project authorizations to improve federal navigation channels to accommodate the modern world fleet of deep-draft ships, but it's been seven years since the last WRDA bill was approved."

Although the WRDA legislation is supposed to be biennial, the last such bill was signed into law in 2000. In the intervening years, demand for critical water resources projects has accumulated, as have the costs to implement them.

Numerous projects and provisions in the WRDA 2007 bill will help address port waterside infrastructure needs. Included are projects for navigation channel deepening, dredged material disposal and storage facilities, and policy provisions to improve the Corps of Engineers project implementation process.

Policy provisions supported by AAPA include expanding the use of Corps dredges in the Pacific Northwest and providing for joint federal/local legal liability for project cooperation agreements, or PCAs.

"AAPA and our member U.S. ports salute Congress for hammering out a final bill this session, which we strongly urge the President to sign due to its urgency and importance," said Mr. Nagle. "This bill is vital to maintaining America's position as a dominant world trading partner and to keep our ports working as engines of the nation's economic growth."

The American Association of Port Authorities was founded in 1912 and today represents 160 of the leading public port authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, the Association represents 335 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in the seaports of the Western Hemisphere. AAPA port members are public entities mandated by law to serve public purposes. Port authorities facilitate waterborne commerce and contribute to local, regional and national economic growth.

American Association of Port Authorities Contacts: info@aapa-ports.org

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Waterways Council, Inc. Statement

Urges President to sign the bill to authorize seven modern locks on Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, Bayou Sorrel and Matagorda projects.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI ) praised the overwhelming bipartisan approval tonight by the United States Senate of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) conference report. WRDA legislation would authorize critically important projects on the inland waterways including the modernization of seven locks along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, and projects on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at Bayou Sorrel and Matagorda Bay. Like the House of Representatives, which overwhelmingly approved the legislation in August by a vote of 381 to 40, the final Senate vote was 81 to 12 to clear the WRDA conference report for the President’s signature.

The passage of this conference report by such an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate underscores the important work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. And today’s action reflects the critically important benefits of the inland waterways system and its role in keeping the Nation economically competitive and our citizens productively employed. The WRDA bill will also help to improve our ports, flood and hurricane protection systems, and restore critically important ecosystems.

“Tonight’s Senate action to approve the WRDA conference report is a great victory for this Nation’s commitment to remaining economically competitive now and into the future,” said R. Barry Palmer, WCI President. “Without a modern, efficient system of locks and dams on our Nation’s inland waterways, the transport of critical commodities such as grain for export, coal for electric power generation, petroleum and chemical products for pharmaceuticals, and aggregates for building materials simply cannot reach consumers in the United States and around the globe in the most cost-effective way possible,” Palmer said.

“We now urge President Bush to sign into law this important piece of legislation,” said Palmer.

America’s waterways system is an economic generator, attracting significant private and public investment in plants and equipment. This investment creates economic activity and family-wage jobs. The river system is a critical energy supply line, facilitator of exports, and an environmentally superior mode of transport.

Waterways Council, Inc. is the national public policy organization advocating a modern and well-maintained national system of ports and inland waterways. The group is supported by waterways carriers, shippers, port authorities, shipping associations and waterways advocacy groups from all regions of the country.

Visit: www.waterwayscouncil.org.

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MarEx Editor’s Note:

In September, U.S.-flag Great Lakes cargo was reported to be down almost 3% in August, to about 11 million tons. The Lake Carriers’ Association, a Cleveland-based trade organization representing 18 American companies operating 63 U.S.-flag vessels, says that the lack of dredging and falling water levels on the Great Lakes has again resulted in ships sailing partially full and certainly not “down.” Through August, U.S.-flag tonnage moved on the Great Lakes was down a whopping 5 percent from the same point in 2006, and at a time when other U.S. ports are reporting record tonnage, TEU’s and other benchmarks. We can only hope that a ramped-up dredging plan includes an increase in similar activity at Great Lakes ports.