Federal dredging bills to tackle ‘critical’ need
Feb 06, 2013 | 02:23 PM
| Corinna Petry
CHICAGO Legislation seeking to alleviate the federal "dredging crisis" has been introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate, with some shippers and ports hopeful the bills could provide a major efficiency boost at commerce-bearing lakes, rivers and ports.
"Congress must quickly pass these bills," Donald N. Cree, president of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, said in a statement. "The dredging crisis is obliterating the efficiencies of Great Lakes shipping."
If passed, H.R.335 and companion bill S.218 would require the entire funds collected via a 0.125-percent harbor maintenance tax to be spent on dredging, as mandated in the transportation bill. Although money is being collected for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, only a fraction of it is being spent on federal dredging projects, bill advocates say. Instead, according to the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, the funds surplus, now approaching $7 billion, "is used to mask the size of the federal deficit rather than maintain ports and waterways."....
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