Kathryn Clay, the president of the International Liquid Terminals Association, has called on US president Joe Biden to allocate the full US$10 billion (€8.24 billion) balance in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), echoing a bipartisan request from the US House of Representatives.
The US House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Peter DeFazio (Democrat, Oregon) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (Republican, Missouri) of the same committee have written to the president to request that his 2022 budget allocates the full balance, and at a minimum US$2 billion of the fund, called for in the 2020 Water Development Resources Act (WRDA) for the coming year, which passed through Congress in December 2020.
‘ILTA has long encouraged full use of these funds to make needed investments in our nation’s ports and harbours,’ Clay says. ‘Our ports and waterways are essential channels for trade and interstate commerce. Most of ILTA’s terminals are connected to waterways, which help facilitate movement of essential products internationally and domestically. For decades, maintenance and upgrades to critical port and waterway infrastructure have been woefully underfunded. We need to put the trust fund to work now to make up for the time we have lost and to position ourselves for the future.’
Clay adds that while the WRDA authorises a draw-down of the fund, which collected through a harbour maintenance tax on imported cargo, the fund is currently sitting idle.
‘Instead of using the fund as envisioned – to help the Army Corps of Engineers make much-needed repairs to critical water infrastructure – Congress has diverted revenues to pay for unrelated activities,’ she says. ‘This budget request is a simple and important way to improve America’s infrastructure, a central campaign promise of the Biden administration.’