Levin, Stabenow lead bipartisan call for harbor funding
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of Senators joined Michigan Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow today in calling for full use of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for maintenance of the nation’s harbors.
The senators wrote today to Jeffrey D. Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, calling his attention to language in the recently passed transportation reauthorization bill containing a statement by Congress calling for full use of the trust fund.
To read the letter and learn more, visit:
Obama Administration on Idle Earmark Projects: Use It or Lose It “We Can’t Wait” Action Helps States Put People to Work, Improve Infrastructure
WASHINGTON, DC – The Obama Administration today announced that it won’t allow infrastructure funds to sit idle as a result of stalled earmark projects at a time when hundreds of thousands of construction workers are looking for work. U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is making over $470 million in unspent earmarks immediately available to states for projects that will create jobs and help improve transportation across the country.
“My administration will continue to do everything we can to put Americans back to work,” said President Barack Obama. “We’re not going to let politics stand between construction workers and good jobs repairing our roads and bridges.”
“We are freeing up these funds so states can get down to the business of moving transportation projects forward and putting our friends and neighbors back to work,” said Secretary LaHood.
President Obama has vowed to veto any bill that comes to his desk with earmarks and would support legislation to permanently ban earmarks. But $473 million in highway earmarks from FY2003-2006 appropriations acts remain unspent years later. Those acts contain provisions that authorize the Secretary to make the unused funds available for eligible surface transportation projects. Effective today, state departments of transportation will have the ability to use their unspent earmarked highway funds, some of which are nearly 10 years old, on any eligible highway, transit, passenger rail, or port project.
States must identify the projects they plan to use the funds for by October 1, and must obligate them by December 31, 2012.
“Particularly in these difficult fiscal times, states will be able to put these dollars to good use,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “These funds will create jobs in the short term and help bring about what President Obama called ‘an America built to last.’”
To ensure that this funding is quickly put to good use to improve our nation’s infrastructure, funds not obligated by the December 31 deadline will be proportionally redistributed in FY 2013 to states that met the deadline.
A list of available funds by state can be accessed: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/redisfy0306earmarks.htm
Ports, Freight System Recognized in MAP-21 Surface Transportation Bill Reauthorization.
With congressional passage of MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century), the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) says elements in the two-year, $105 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill elevate the priority of freight movement in a way that constitutes major progress in recognizing the value of America’s seaports and freight network to the economy, jobs creation and business development.
For the first time in a surface transportation bill, Congress acknowledges the need for and economic importance of maintaining federal navigation channels to their constructed dimensions. This legislation points out the disparity between the money collected from shippers through the federal Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) and the funds requested and appropriated for the purpose of maintaining America’s federal navigation channels. In “Sense of Congress” language, the bill acknowledges the shortfall in spending for federal channel maintenance and calls on the administration to request full funding consistent with revenue collected from harbor users for the purpose of maintenance dredging and associated projects.
“The ‘Sense of Congress’ language represents an important first step in considering federal channel maintenance needs,” said Jean Godwin, AAPA Executive Vice President. “Overall,” she continued, “while this bill falls short of dedicating needed funding specifically for freight projects, it does create a framework upon which we can prioritize freight mobility needs and address congestion and capacity demands on America’s freight network going forward.”
House Subcommittee Approves Level Funding for DERA in FY 2013
On June 20th, 2012, the House Appropriations Interior-Environment Subcommittee approved a funding bill for the Environmental Protection Agency for FY 2013 that includes $30 million for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). This funding amount is level with FY 2012 funding.
The Subcommittee did not directly address the Administration’s proposal to move the program away from grants and toward rebates and loans; however, it did provide “$30,000,000 for grants” under DERA. The Administration requested $15 million for DERA in FY 2013.
Keep in touch with the DWCPA if you are interested in this program, and are looking to upgrade equipment.