The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has expressed its discontent with the US President’s fiscal 2017 budget, which is claimed to have not sufficiently covered the US maritime sector and ports.
The proposed budget has witnessed a dip in the funding levels for US Army Corps of Engineers coastal navigation programmes, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Port Security Grant programme.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Grant programme has been awarded funding of $10m, an 80% drop from the current $50m funding level which is in stark contrast to an increase in allocation of funds to Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) from $500m to $1.25bn.
The DERA grant is used by the ports to conduct Clean Truck programmes, retrofitting or replacing yard equipment, installing shore power for vessels at docks, retrofitting dredges and tugs and replacing diesel engines used by the marine sector to curb harmful pollutant emissions.
The anticipated 21st Century Clean Transportation plan does allow an allocation of $300m to DERA, however it is subject to Congress’s approval of the President’s request for a $10.25-a-barrel tax on oil, but it’s unclear if that money would be utilised at ports.
AAPA president and CEO Kurt Nagle said: "While AAPA believes the Administration’s budget would lead to improved freight movement over our surface transportation system, all would be for naught if the budget’s proposed cuts to waterside infrastructure programs were adopted.
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"If we can’t get the goods efficiently and competitively into and out of our country through seaports and waterside navigation channels, American manufacturers won’t be able to receive the materials and/or components they need, and they as well as US farmers, won’t be able to competitively export their products globally.
"In addition, US retailers and consumers will suffer."
The Port security grants, which constitute a part of FEMA’s National Preparedness Grant Program, have also witnessed a dip of 7% at $93m which earlier was $100m.
Nagle added: "As the Administration and Congress grapple with the multiple goals of reducing the nation’s debt while growing jobs and the economy, federal investments in ports and their connecting waterside and landside infrastructure continue to be an essential, effective utilisation of limited resources, paying dividends through increased trade, jobs, enhanced international competitiveness, and over $320bn a year in tax revenues."