Boustany calls for committee to maintain funding levels for harbor maintenance

U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) called on the House Appropriations Committee on Monday to maintain current funding levels for harbor maintenance.

Boustany spearheaded a letter that called on members of the committee to not cut allocations from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) and to maintain funding at fiscal year 2016 levels going forward.

“For every foot of sediment we allow to accumulate in our ports, $1 million in economic activity is lost every day,” Boustany said. “I have consistently fought to stop Congress from raiding the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for pet projects because Louisiana’s economy depends on a healthy water infrastructure. Lowering the allocation to the fund is inconsistent with Congress’s original target, and is a step backwards we can’t afford. I will to continue to fight for our ports and hold our Members’ feet to the fire.”

Boustany inserted targets for annual incremental funding increases for the HMTF in the Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014. Since then, he’s advocated for hitting those funding targets.

In President Barack Obama’s proposed budget, HMTF revenue is anticipated to be $1.662 billion — approximately $225 million less than the previous year’s estimated revenue for fiscal year 2016. That has led members of the House Appropriations Committee to consider lowering the amount allocated to the U.S. Army Corps of engineers to maintain shipping channels, ports and harbors.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has reported that authorized channel depths nationwide are available less than half of the time, and then only over half of the channel’s width,” the letter states. “This drives up the cost of U.S. exports and imports, which threatens U.S. economic growth and increases the risk of vessel groundings and associated oil spills. Many U.S. exports compete in a very price-sensitive global market where transportation inefficiencies mean losing business to other countries. Underutilization of HMT revenue threatens the continued operation of small and medium sized harbors, and some have closed due to inadequate maintenance.”

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