CHICAGO The American
Institute for International Steel (AIIS), pushing for Congress
to pass the Water Resources Development Act, is focused on a
provision that would require the government to spend all of the
funds collected through the Harbor Maintenance Tax for their
intended purpose: dredging and maintaining ports.
The laws passage "would be
a major step (toward meeting) the nations infrastructure
needs," AIIS chairman John Foster said in a statement. "Now is
the time for Congress to act, as dredging has been underfunded
for so long that over $7 billion has built up in the Harbor
Maintenance Trust Fund. The year-after-year underfunding of
this critical task has significant costs for our economy."
Every time a vessels draft
is reduced by one foot due to inadequate dredging, shippers
have to bear an additional $1 million in shipping costs,
according to Kevin Castagnola, chief executive officer of South
Jersey Port Corp. and chairman of the AIIS ports committee.
Such costs hurt job creation and manufacturing productivity, he
"An analysis by the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers stated that fully authorized channel
dimensions are available less than 35 percent of the time at 59
of the highest-use harbors in the United States," Castagnola
said. "These costs are a serious competitive problem (that is
a) direct result of not allocating the (harbor maintenance fee)
solely to dredging, as the law states."
Describing steel trading as a
"highly competitive world," Foster said that the lack of proper
port channels has hurt AIIS members competitive edge.
"Reaching President Obamas goal of doubling exports, for
example, is made more difficult with a less-competitive port
system," he said
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just completed a 10-year,
$370-million dredging project to deepen the Port of Los
Angeless Main Channel, West Basin Channel and East Basin
Channel to 53 feet from 45 feet, which will allow it to
accommodate larger cargo vessels (
amm.com, April 4).