Speaking on behalf of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), Port of Cleveland President and CEO William Friedman will testify tomorrow before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) in a hearing titled America’s Water Infrastructure Needs and Challenges.
Friedman’s testimony, which will focus on issues related to navigation infrastructure maintenance, rehabilitation and replacement, is to help committee members better understand and appreciate some of the critical infrastructure issues faced by America’s public ports.
“AAPA is looking forward with great anticipation to a focus on America’s infrastructure investment needs by the Trump Administration and Congress in 2018. Our testimony tomorrow will kick-off the new year with infrastructure as a priority, including waterside infrastructure that needs to be addressed in the next WRDA (Water Resources Development Act) legislation,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle.
“Seaport cargo activity accounts for 26 percent of U.S. GDP, over 23 million American jobs, and generates over $320 billion annually in federal, state and local tax revenues. To ensure these jobs, tax revenues and freight volumes continue to grow and support the American economy, AAPA has worked with its member ports to identify $66 billion in federal port-related infrastructure investments over the next 10 years, on both the waterside and the landside.”
In addition to providing examples of waterside infrastructure needs, Mr. Friedman will offer AAPA’s recommendations for water resources legislation to enhance the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigation program. Also testifying on the same panel will be representatives for the Restore the Mississippi Delta Coalition, the National Association of Counties, the Congressional Research Service and the Muskogee City-County Port Authority in Oklahoma.
As AAPA’s U.S. Delegation chairman-elect, Mr. Friedman will discuss the value to the nation’s economic future of constructing and maintaining 21st century infrastructure, stressing that port-related infrastructure must be part of any broad infrastructure investment legislation the committee develops. He will also share three key AAPA recommendations for inclusion in the next WRDA bill. They are: 1) that future Harbor Maintenance Tax revenues go directly to the Corps of Engineers rather than into the U.S. General Fund; 2) that Congress authorize and construct navigation project improvements recommended in the Corps’ Chief of Engineer’s reports, and; 3) that additional streamlining be implemented on the Corps’ study process for navigation channel improvements.
John Wolfe, CEO of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, told LM in an interview that the ports of Seattle and Tacoma “is speaking with a strong, unified voice” in advocating for reforms to the Harbor Maintenance Tax, which continues to put our gateway at a disadvantage with Canadian ports serving the same U.S. Midwest market.
“The U.S. tax policy provides little benefit to our naturally deep harbors for the money our customers pay,” he adds.
According to the AAPA's Nagle, testimony before the Senate EPW Committee is a way to draw further attention to the value that ports provid.
“It will also stress that efficient waterside and landside connections to ports must be a top priority in any broad federal infrastructure package that we’re optimistic will be advanced this year,” he said.