AAPA CEO Nagle says port-related infrastructure key to U.S. competitiveness
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) today welcomed news that the House-Senate conference committee has completed negotiations and issued its report on the long-awaited and critically-needed water resources development legislation. Upon learning the 2014 Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) is on its way to Congress for approval, AAPA immediately sent appreciation and congratulations to conference committee leaders Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) for their bipartisan leadership in bringing a negotiated water resources bill to the floor of Congress.
Both Sen. Boxer and Rep. Shuster and were jointly named AAPA’s “Port Person of the Year” in March for advancing this crucial legislation, although both chose to wait to receive their award until the bill made it successfully out of conference for a final vote of Congress.
In addition to Rep. Shuster and Sen. Boxer, AAPA lauded Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA), together with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member (Nick) Rahall (D-WV), House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman (Bob) Gibbs (R-OH) and Ranking Member (Tim) Bishop (D-NY), for their unified support in moving this important bill toward a floor vote.
“Having waited seven long years since passage of the last water resources authorization bill, our U.S. member ports are extremely pleased to see a final reauthorization bill,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle. “Our nation desperately needs this water resources legislation to fortify our infrastructure, create and maintain good-paying U.S. jobs, grow our economy and enhance America's international competitiveness.”
Mr. Nagle noted that more than a quarter of America’s annual GDP is accounted for by international trade. “In order to strengthen the U.S. economy, we must ensure these goods can move efficiently in and out of America’s ports, without avoidable and costly delays caused by inadequate or poorly maintained infrastructure. The WRRDA authorization bill helps some of the critical waterside needs facing this nation.”
The bipartisan water resources legislation has a number of provisions that address the needs of America’s seaports. In particular, it:
Establishes a pathway to full use of the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT);
Addresses HMT donor equity;
Modernizes the maintenance dredging cost-share threshold;
Authorizes new navigation channel improvements;
Expedites the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation channel study completion process;
Quickens the pace of project completions by enhancing partnerships.
“The bottom line,” said Mr. Nagle, “is this WRRDA bill will help enable the United States to enhance its maritime infrastructure and strengthen its position as a world leader in global trade. AAPA thanks the bipartisan leadership and urges swift final passage and enactment.”
He added, “By finalizing the 2014 WRRDA, conference committee members have demonstrated they recognize the significant benefits more modern, efficient seaport and waterway infrastructure will have on our nation’s economic vitality, job growth and international competitiveness, as well as the value in helping address federal fiscal realities through sizable tax revenues provided by the cargo and trade activity moving through these systems. Increased investments are needed to better maintain and improve the transportation infrastructure on our three coasts and the Great Lakes, linking America to the global marketplace.”
Summarizing, Mr. Nagle said, “America’s public ports – which create jobs for more than 13 million people and handle 99.4 percent of the tonnage of our nation’s overseas trade – together with their private-sector partners are investing over $9 billion annually in marine terminal infrastructure. We look forward to Congressional passage and President Obama signing this legislation, which will make important policy reforms and authorize badly needed maintenance and improvements to waterside connections with seaports.”
Port Name: American Association of Port Authorities
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Founded in 1912, AAPA today represents 160 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 300 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. As a critical link for access to the global marketplace, each year, Western Hemisphere seaports generate trillions of dollars of economic activity, support the employment of millions of people and, in 2008, imported and exported more than 7.8 billion tons of cargo, valued at $8.6 trillion, including food, clothing, medicine, fuel and building materials, as well as consumer electronics and toys. The volume of cargo shipped by water is expected to dramatically increase by 2020 and the number of passengers traveling through our seaports will continue to grow. To meet these demands, the AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable.