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Brownwater News, June 2016

Jun 16, 2016 01:25 PM

Industry awaits publication of Subchapter M on June 20

Now that the Office of Management and Budget has completed its review of Subchapter M, the towing vessel inspection rule, the American Waterways Operators (AWO) is awaiting publication in the Federal Register on June 20.

Jennifer Carpenter, the AWO’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said two webinars about the rule will be held on June 20 and June 21. The sessions are open to AWO members and non-members. For more information, go to www.americanwaterways.com.

Carpenter said May 4 in the AWO Alert that upon publication of Subchapter M, AWO will work with the Coast Guard to identify any final changes to the Responsible Carrier Program needed to finalize the Coast Guard’s acceptance of the RCP as a towing safety management system.

The Coast Guard has estimated that, as a result of the rule, owners and operators of towing vessels would incur total additional annualized costs in the range of $14.3 million to $17.1 million. The cost of the rulemaking would involve provisions for safety management systems and standards for construction, operation, vessel systems, safety equipment and recordkeeping. The Coast Guard also has estimated an annualized benefit of $28.5 million from the rule.

Any questions about the AWO’s post-publication plans and priorities should be directed to Carpenter or Caitlyn Stewart or at jcarpenter@americanwaterways.com or cstewart@americanwaterways.com, or at (703) 841-9300, Ext. 262 or 260, respectively.

House committee approves WRDA 2016

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has unanimously approved H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, legislation designed to address the needs of America’s harbors, locks, dams, flood protection and other water resources infrastructure.

Sponsors said that WRDA 2016 will return Congress to the regular biannual process of authorizing projects and activities related to the key missions of the Army Corps of Engineers.

“This bill is about strengthening our nation’s infrastructure so we can remain competitive,” said Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the committee chairman. “It’s about economic growth. It’s about jobs. Water resources infrastructure is fundamental to a sound economy, and WRDA 2016 gets Congress back to basics and the business of regularly addressing the needs of our ports, waterways, lock and dam systems, flood protection and other infrastructure.

“This bill contains no earmarks, follows the process reforms established in the water resources bill two years ago and maintains congressional oversight of (Army) Corps of Engineers’ work.”

The bill includes “several critical provisions and reforms to maintain and strengthen our ports, harbors and waterways, while boosting our nation’s economic competitiveness,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., ranking member of the committee. "This legislation will ensure that funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance (Trust) Fund will be used for their intended purpose — harbor maintenance.”

Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, chairman of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, said that water infrastructure is a “critical component to our nation's transportation network. In WRRDA (Water Resources Reform and Development Act) 2014, we made major reforms to how the federal government approves and completes water projects and we streamlined the process to save taxpayer dollars. This year’s WRDA builds on that progress and continues our goal of passing a water resources bill every two years.”  

WRDA 2016 authorizes 28 Army Corps of Engineers chief’s reports submitted to Congress since the enactment of the previous measure. Chief’s reports are the final recommendation to Congress by the Corps’ chief of engineers for water resources infrastructure priorities. These infrastructure improvements have been proposed at the local level, in cooperation and consultation with the Corps, and provide national economic and environmental benefits. All chief’s reports included in WRDA 2016 were the subject of committee hearings this year.

The legislation authorizes approximately $5 billion in federal funding for Corps activities, offset by $5 billion in deauthorizations of previously authorized projects. The measure also sunsets new authorizations to prevent future project backlogs.

Inland Waterways Users Board to meet July 1

The 79th meeting of the Inland Waterways Users Board will take place July 1 at the Walker Hall Events Center in Paducah, Ky.

On the preceding day, members will be treated to a site visit of Olmsted Locks and Dam, located at mile point 964.4 of the Ohio River, and Kentucky Lock located at mile point 22.4 of the Tennessee River.

It is recommended that individuals planning on attending the site visit on June 30 travel to the Paducah area on June 29 since visitors will begin traveling to the site the morning of June 30.

For more information, contact Mark Pointon at (703) 428-6438.

Farley elected chairman of AWO directors

Members attending the spring convention of the American Waterways Operators in Washington, D.C., elected Jim Farley of the Kirby Corp. as chairman of the board of directors and Ted Tregurtha of the Moran Towing Corp. as vice chairman.

At the convention, the board approved a comprehensive plan for communication with members and consultation with the Coast Guard on the implementation of Subchapter M and established a member task force to develop a new strategic plan for the AWO.

The AWO also reported that the convention’s “Barge-In” attracted a record 164 members to 219 meetings with members of Congress and staff to urge support for the Jones Act, passage of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) and support for “a reliable, well-maintained waterways infrastructure.”

WCI hails rejection of lockage fees, tolls

Michael J. Toohey, president and chief executive officer of the Waterways Council Inc. (WCI), applauded the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for rejecting lockage fees and tolls to finance public-private partnerships on the nation’s waterways before approving S. 2848, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2016.

“WCI is also supportive of the Senate bill’s authorization of $16.7 million in modification work for Calcasieu Lock in Louisiana, and for the Brazos Island Harbor project (funded with $116 million federal and $135 million non-federal funds),” Toohey said. “We also applaud the provision to remove Inland Waterways Trust Fund capital projects from the five-year/no-funding deauthorization rule until Olmsted is substantially off the books.”

Furthermore, Toohey said WCI appreciates the return to regular order of WRDA bills every two years.

“We look forward to working with Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla., committee chairman) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif., ranking member of the committee) and all Senate members to adjust the threshold for major rehabilitation as recommended by the Inland Waterways Users Board and the Capital Development Plan," he said. "A modern, efficient inland navigation system is a critical link in the transportation supply chain, ensuring U.S. competitiveness in world markets.”

New rule requires cargo-securing manuals aboard ship

The Coast Guard has issued an interim rule, effective June 8, to require U.S. and foreign self-propelled cargo vessels of 500 gross tons or more, traveling on international voyages and carrying cargo that is other than solid or liquid bulk cargo, to have cargo securing manuals (CSM) on board.

Comments must be received by the Coast Guard by Aug. 8. For more information, contact Ken Smith at (202) 372-1413.

Ports group applauds Senate panel on diesel emissions act

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) applauded the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and its Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee on May 18 for approving a stand-alone, five-year reauthorization of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA).

The committee renewed the bill’s $100 million funding level authorized by Congress in 2010.

DERA grants are part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Diesel Campaign. The grants include technologies such as emissions and idle-control devices and alternative fuel options.

Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the ports association, said that since the law’s inception, 57 percent of AAPA’s U.S. member ports have applied for DERA funding to improve their communities’ air quality.

South Carolina proposes second inland port facility

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) said it plans to pursue a second inland port facility as a result of the “tremendous success” of Inland Port Greer and demand for enhanced efficiency of international container movements between the Port of Charleston and North Carolina.

Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO, said that if the plan is feasible, an additional inland port “will be a great diversification of our logistics footprint.”

Newsome said SCPA is working with CSX to determine “the viability of Dillon, S.C., as the location for our next inland port and hope to finalize our plans by the end of the year.”

212 applicants seek $9.8 billion in FASTLANE grants

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced receipt of 212 applications totaling nearly $9.8 billion for grants through the newly created Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) program.

“The huge wave of interest in the first year of this program — with states and localities requesting over 13 times more funding than was available through FASTLANE — underscores the continuing need for infrastructure investment across the country,” Foxx said.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is reviewing all eligible applications. For the first time in the DOT’s 50-year history, Foxx said, the program establishes broad, multi-year eligibilities for freight infrastructure, including intermodal projects.

For more information, visit www.transportation.gov/FASTLANEgrants.

Property owners allowed to sue Corps in WOTUS case

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously May 31 that property owners could sue the Army Corps of Engineers over the Corps’ determination that its land contains “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) covered by the Clean Water Act.

It was the government’s contention that a property owner could not file suit before filing for a permit and expressing dissatisfaction with the result. The government also claimed that the complaint could be resolved if the owner went ahead with a project without a permit and faced sanctions.

However, Chief Justice John Roberts said that neither option singled out by the government was acceptable. Proceeding without a permit, Roberts said, leaves property owners open to possible penalties of up to $37,500 a day if found in violation of the act.

Furthermore, the justice said, property owners need not assume such risks while waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency “to drop the hammer” before a court decision.

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