Legislation that proponents say will be a boon for water and
port infrastructure, accelerating projects and making it easier
to transport commodities, was introduced Sept. 12 in the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The Water Resources
Reform and Development Act would authorize investments in U.S.
ports and waterways, including development and maintenance
projects, targeted flood protection and environmental
restoration, as well as set deadlines on the review period for
projects, according to the House committee.
"This bill is about
jobs," Rep. Nick Rahall II (D., W.Va.) said. "It boosts our
ports, strengthens our maritime economy and allows commodities
to move more efficiently along our inland waterways, saving
time and money."
Rep. Bob Gibbs (R.,
Ohio) said the bill would fix the review process for water
infrastructure projects, which often takes 10 to 15 years,
slowing waterway improvements and congesting the nations
"You cant move
steel to markets if you dont have properly dredged ports
and channels," Waterways Council senior vice president Debra
Colbert told AMM. "They need regular maintenance. If
we dont have that, thats a problem."
The bill was sponsored
by Gibbs and Rahall as well as Rep. Bill Shuster (R., Pa.) and
Rep. Tim Bishop (D., N.Y.). The Senates version of the
bill was approved May 15 by a vote of 83 to 14 (
amm.com, May 16).
The House bill does
not include provisions to increase the Inland Waterways Trust
Fund fee, a 20-cent-per-gallon fee on fuel for inland transport
operations that pays for water infrastructure projects, Colbert
said. The Waterways Council wanted a fee increase included in
"All steel producers
and agriculture are stakeholders who are using and relying on
waterways system. We want to see 20 cents increased to 26 cents
per gallon," Colbert said. "Waterways are critically important,
yet we continue to underinvest and take it for granted."
The bill is expected
to move to the House floor in October, Colbert said.