Federal dredging bills to tackle ‘critical’ need

Feb 06, 2013 | 02:23 PM | Corinna Petry

Tags  steel, dredging, iron ore, ports, Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, Donald Cree, James Weakley, Lake Carriers Association Jo-Ellen Darcy

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 fund’s 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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