+1 212 318 2000
Europe, Middle East, & Africa
+44 20 7330 7500
+65 6212 1000
By Alan Kovski
March 18 --The House-Senate conference working to reconcile two water infrastructure bills appears headed toward a windup of the work at the end of April, according to Michael Toohey, president of the Waterways Council, a coalition supportive of waterborne shipping.
The details of the compromises developed by lawmakers and staff are being kept confidential by conference participants, but Toohey, at a March 18 news briefing, said it was his impression the participants intended to allow maybe one more project authorization to get into the bill.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (H.R. 3080) would authorize funding for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects including construction and maintenance of dams, locks, levees, river channels, harbors and environmental restoration projects.
If another project receives the final procedural approval of a chief of engineer's report by--approximately--the end of April, the conferees then could make their recommendation to both houses of Congress, Toohey said. His council lobbies for the interests of a spectrum of carriers, their shipping customers, port authorities and other interested parties.
The House bill would not approve funding of any additional projects beyond those specified in the legislation passed in October. The Senate version, approved in May, would include funding of any projects with chief's reports and recommendations to Congress at the time the legislation is signed into law.
For conferees, the task is to work out a compromise cutoff point for projects, Toohey said.
The legislation becomes something of a tug of war as lawmakers try to get projects for their home states or districts.
Observers have been citing the differing authorization details as the chief cause for the legislation's slow movement. The conference began working on the compromises in November and since then has wrestled with the question of whether the cost of additional projects would cause House budget hawks to rebel (2014 WLPM, 3/5/14).
The project authorizations are much more important politically to most of the lawmakers than are the provisions for streamlining environmental reviews. Both houses included streamlining provisions over the objections of environmental advocates, but for that issue, too, a resolution of the differences has not been divulged.
Joining in the news conference, Tom Allegretti, president of American Waterways Operators, focused on other issues, including the hopes of his group of waterborne transporters to see a uniform federal regulation of ballast water to replace the current patchwork of regulations from two federal agencies and 35 states.
The current system is very costly, very confused and very complicated, and it serves neither the economy nor the environment very well, Allegretti said.
The proposed Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (S. 3094), introduced by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) with much bipartisan support, would require the Coast Guard, in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency, to establish uniform national standards governing discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel. The standards would supersede all others, including state standards.
Allegretti expressed strong support for S. 3094. He also said Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) has been doing good work on the subject in the House, though with different legislation.
LoBiondo used a March 4 House subcommittee hearing to press an Environmental Protection Agency official on the problem of enforcement where EPA and Coast Guard regulations overlap in impractical ways.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Kovski in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).