Brownwater News, July 2018Jul 19, 2018 10:02 AM
Senate approves $6.9 billion for Army Corps' Civil Works
The Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) has applauded the Senate’s passage of fiscal year 2019 Energy and Water Development (E&WD) appropriations funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. By a vote of 86-5 on June 25, the Senate passed E&WD as part of H.R. 5895, a minibus bill (a measure containing three appropriations bills) that will provide $6.9 billion for the Corps’ Civil Works program, $2.1 billion above President Trump’s FY 19 budget request.
The Senate bill includes an amendment enabling the use of an estimated $310 million for the top five Inland Waterways Trust Fund-supported priority navigation projects: Olmsted Locks and Dam, $35 million; Kentucky Lock, $59 million; Lower Mon Locks and Dams, $87 million; Chickamauga Lock, $100 million; and LaGrange Lock and Dam, $29 million.
The Senate bill also allocates $2.2 billion for other construction, $3.7 billion for operations and maintenance, and calls for six new construction starts and seven new study starts still to be determined by the Department of the Army.
The WCI said the Senate rejected a user fee to be paid by commercial operators on the inland waterways that was proposed by Trump to provide an additional $1 billion over 10 years.
On June 8, the House passed its FY 19 energy and water bill that includes $7.3 billion for the Corps’ Civil Works mission. The next move is for House and Senate lawmakers to go to conference to reconcile the two bills.
White House seeks new home for Civil Works program
A White House proposal that would move the Army Corps' Civil Works program out of the Defense Department and into the Transportation Department and Interior Department got the attention of the waterways industry, but little immediate enthusiastic support.
The National Waterways Conference (NWC) suggested that any such reorganization should wait for the Trump administration to conduct “an open and transparent process, taking into consideration the input of local governments, states and other water resources stakeholders.”
The NWC said that both Congress and the Corps have “recognized the need to streamline the Corps' business model, improve project delivery, and provide greater responsiveness to impacted stakeholders and the public. Both the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 and the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 enacted policy reforms toward this end.”
The NWC also noted that legislation currently in Congress calls for a comprehensive study of the Corps’ structure and organization, “whether it should be modified to lead to greater efficiency, coordination, transparency and cost savings, and the effects of transferring its functions to an existing or new agency.”
OMB looks to drop unnecessary maritime regulations
The American Waterways Operators (AWO) reported that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is requesting information on maritime regulations and requirements that are unnecessary, ineffective, outdated or no longer justified in a move to reduce costs and achieve statutory objectives.
The AWO said the information provided to the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs will be used to guide the development of federal maritime regulatory reform.
For more information, email the AWO at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (703) 841-9300.
Coast Guard to delay TWIC reader rules for some facilities
The Coast Guard plans to delay for three years the date for certain facilities to meet card reader requirements for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).
The facilities affected by the delay to Aug. 23, 2021, are those that handle certain dangerous cargoes in bulk but do not transfer those cargoes to or from a vessel, and facilities that receive such cargo-carrying vessels “but do not, during that vessel-to-facility interface, transfer these bulk cargoes to or from those vessels.”
Other facilities, including those that handle large passenger vessels, are still required to comply with the reader rule by Aug. 23, 2018.
The Coast Guard decided on the delay after the International Liquid Terminals Association and other industry groups filed a petition urging the service to consider revising the scope of the TWIC reader final rule.
For more information, contact Lt. Cmdr. Yamaris Barril at (202) 372–1151.
Army Corps weighs fate of three Upper Mississippi locks
The Army Corps of Engineers is proceeding with a study to determine the fate of the uppermost three locks on the Mississippi River. The study, expected to be finished by December 2019, involves locks at Upper St. Anthony Falls, Lower St. Anthony Falls and Lock and Dam 1 in Minnesota.
The study will lead to either no action or disposal of the properties by turning them over to other operators. The Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock, opened in 1963, was closed to all traffic in 2015, ostensibly to combat Asian carp.
Questions on the study should be directed to Nan Bischoff, a project manager in the Corps’ St. Paul (Minn.) District, at (651) 290-5426.
Coast Guard to end some radar observer rules
The U.S. Coast Guard plans to remove obsolete portions of the radar observer requirements from the merchant mariner credentialing regulations. Under the Coast Guard proposal, a radar-qualified mariner serving for at least a year would not be required to complete a Coast Guard-approved radar refresher or recertification to renew his or her radar observer endorsement.
The Coast Guard said that elimination of the requirement to take a radar refresher or recertification course every five years would reduce the burden on affected mariners without impacting safety. For more information, contact Davis Breyer at (202) 372-1445.
Inland Waterways Users Board to meet Aug. 30
The Inland Waterways Users Board has scheduled its next meeting for Aug. 30 at the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center in Paducah, Ky.
The agenda will include the status of funding for inland navigation in the fiscal year 2018 work plan; the status of the FY 2019 budget for the navigation program; the status of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund; and the status of several construction activities, including the Olmsted Locks and Dam project. On Aug. 29, there will be a tour of the Kentucky Lock project on the Tennessee River.
For more information on the tour and the meeting, contact Mark Pointon at (703) 428-6438, or Kenneth Lichtman at (703) 428-8083.