The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has expressed concern over proposed cuts for port-related programmes outlined in President Trump’s Fiscal 2018 budget.
According to the AAPA, federal support for port dredging and improvements, environmental enhancements and security could fall under the new administration’s funding recommendations, with potentially significant declines for most federally funded, port-related programmes.
The budget included proposed cuts on funding for the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants programme as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s Port Security Grants Programme (PSGP).
Last year, the former provided US ports with US$61.8m in multimodal infrastructure grants such as dock, rail and road improvements, while the latter provided 35 port security-related grants in fiscal 2017.
Trump also proposed cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget, which funds the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants, by 31%.
“While no details were released today on the fate of this programme, which is authorised at US$100m, DERA grants have been especially helpful in decreasing port-related diesel emissions in near-port communities,” an AAPA’s statement noted.
“These federal grants have helped ports to make investments in clean diesel equipment and reduction strategies at the ports themselves, and they’ve used them to help businesses buy newer, cleaner-burning trucks, locomotives and vessels.”
Additionally, while Trump’s proposed budget called for rising the overall US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) budget by US$400m over the previous administration’s request of US$4.6bn, the proposed measure would still mean a 16% fall compared to the Continuing Resolution fiscal 2017 level.
More information on the Corps’ Coastal Navigation programme, which funds improvements and maintenance in US harbours and deep-draft shipping channels, is set to be provided in May 2017.
Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO, said: “We’re apprehensive about the fiscal 2018 budget. Adequate federal investments into US port-related infrastructure, both on the landside and waterside, are crucial for the efficient movement of goods so the nation can remain globally competitive.”
The AAPA also provided several recommendations for the next year’s fiscal budget, including providing the Corps’ Navigation programme with US$2.9bn and increasing funding to US$400m for the Department of Homeland Security’s PSGP.
Additional recommendations include either expanding USDOT’s TIGER programme or creating a new multimodal discretionary grant programme like it and provide it with US$1.25bn of funding per year.
The statement also recommended “continue funding USDOT’s FAST Act programmes at currently authorised levels, which includes formula funds to states and FAST Lane grants for nationally and regionally significant transportation projects”.
Other recommendations include increasing funds available for multimodal projects, which is currently limited to US$500m a year through 2020, and fund DERA grants at the US$100m authorised level.
Nagle added: “While the president’s budget request includes significant funding cuts to some port-related programs, we’re hopeful that, as the fiscal 2018 budget process as well as the anticipated sizable infrastructure package moves forward, significant federal investments will be made in port-related infrastructure.
“Such investments will pay huge dividends in terms of economic growth, American jobs and tax revenues.”