“WRRDA will expedite review processes to keep projects like Charleston’s Post-45 Harbor Deepening from facing unnecessary delays and will help provide maintenance funding for emerging ports like Georgetown,” said SCPA President and CEO Jim Newsome. “The state of South Carolina and S.C. State Ports Authority commends Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, Ranking Member Nick Rahall and the entire South Carolina House delegation: Congressmen Mark Sanford, Joe Wilson, Jeff Duncan, Trey Gowdy, Mick Mulvaney, Jim Clyburn and Tom Rice. Our delegation had leaders on the Transportation Committee and outstanding members working the floor. This bill’s passage through the House reinforces the importance of authorizing projects that are critical to our nation’s infrastructure and to keeping the U.S. competitive worldwide.”
The bill includes measures to reform government bureaucracy, accelerate project delivery and streamline environmental reviews. WRRDA also strengthens oversight, prioritizes development of the nation’s water resources and deauthorizes $12 billion-worth of old, inactive projects, offsetting the cost of new projects through the deauthorizations. The bill also streamlines the transition from study to construction and provides a mechanism to allow non-federal entities to begin deepening their harbors and apply for reimbursement.
The House’s action complements an 83-14 Senate vote taken May 15 to pass its version of the bill, known as the Water Resources Development Act of 2013. The two versions will now head to a conference committee, where House and Senate lawmakers will work to blend each bill’s differences. Congress last passed a water resources bill in 2007.
“The conference committee represents this bill’s last hurdle,” said SCPA Board Chairman Bill Stern. “We’re hopeful its final version includes language that removes barriers to the construction phase of harbor deepening projects, includes funding for emerging ports and increases the threshold for federal maintenance from 45 feet to 50 feet. We continue to believe that the Charleston Harbor deepening project will compete well for funding when a merit-based approach is implemented to address needed port modernization projects.”
The Charleston Post-45 Harbor Deepening is in the study phase, and the Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District plans to finish its Chief’s Report by September 2015. The Charleston District has shaved years off the study’s length and saved millions of dollars as it examines the economic, environmental and engineering impacts of deepening the harbor beyond 45 feet.
“The bipartisan support of our delegation proves that South Carolina is laser-focused on jobs, economic development and infrastructure needed to keep our state competitive,” Stern said.
Leaders from South Carolina and across the country praised the bill’s passage.
“While we still have more work to do, the House took a big step forward today in passing the Water Resources Reform and Development Act,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham. “I commend our South Carolina delegation for their affirmative support. Their unanimous vote is proof of the positive effects our ports have on our entire state. I look forward to working on this bill in conference committee.”
“Today’s WRRDA vote by the House was a solid step forward in our efforts to institute positive reforms,” said Sen. Tim Scott. “We are certainly moving in the right direction by addressing critical projects that would improve America’s ports and infrastructure that give South Carolina and the nation the chance to compete and win in a competitive global marketplace.”
“This WRRDA bill is an important step forward for Charleston and businesses not only in our region but across the state, and it is vital to ensuring Charleston’s Post-45 Harbor Deepening stays on schedule,” said Congressman Mark Sanford (S.C.-01).
“By passing WRRDA, Congress has fulfilled its responsibility of providing an expedient pathway for dredging the Port of Charleston in addition to other vital Army Corps projects nationwide,” said Congressman Joe Wilson (S.C.-02). “I am proud to support this legislation and will continue to serve as a vocal advocate for the Port of Charleston, which plays a tremendous role in South Carolina’s economy.”
“Today, the House of Representatives passed the much needed Water Resources Reform and Development Act to provide for our trade and transport demands and improve upon a waterway transportation system hampered by red tape,” said Congressman Jeff Duncan (S.C.-03). “This legislation provides a streamlined and consolidated framework for approval of our nation’s water infrastructure projects and will clear out a multi-decade backlog of projects. WRRDA moves the ball forward on crucial projects like the development of our state’s ports and water resources and will allow for more efficient movement of goods to and from our nation. The Framers of our Constitution understood the importance of a sound national infrastructure network, and I am happy to support this legislation that advances trade, transportation and American jobs while upholding the moratorium on Congressional earmarks and strengthening Congressional oversight.”
“Transportation infrastructure supports the economic health of our state,” said Congressman Trey Gowdy (S.C.-04). “The Port of Charleston is important for growing industries like those in the Spartanburg-Greenville area to ship their goods, but bureaucracy has jeopardized critical improvements. Today the House passed a bill to improve America’s competitiveness and provide needed flexibility and streamlining for projects like the port.”
“I was proud to support the Water Resources Reform and Development Act that passed the House today,” said Congressman Mick Mulvaney (S.C.-05). “The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure constructed a bill to fund our nation’s critical water infrastructure while incorporating much-needed reforms. Making our nation’s ports and water resources a priority is vital to our ability as a nation to compete in a global market.”
“As a steadfast supporter of the ports of Charleston and Georgetown, I am heartened by today’s bipartisan support and passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act,” said Congressman Jim Clyburn (S.C.-06). “Ports facilitate trade and commerce for our entire state and are critical pieces of infrastructure that we must modernize if South Carolina is to succeed and prosper.”
“Since I was sworn in on Jan. 3, I have worked tirelessly to bring much-needed attention to South Carolina’s water infrastructure needs,” said Congressman Tom Rice (S.C.-07). “Both the Georgetown port and Charleston port are critical to our state’s economy and our country’s competitiveness. To ensure that our state’s needs are met, I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and our delegation so the Palmetto State remains a key player on the East Coast in a post-Panamax world.”
“From day one, Congressman Rice has clearly expressed the importance of South Carolina’s ports and water infrastructure to his state and our country’s economy,” said Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA). “I was pleased to tour some of the critical infrastructure in his state with him, and Tom has made the case both in Washington and in South Carolina further emphasizing how these ports are tied to jobs and American competiveness.”
“The passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act is a positive step forward for our state, our ports and for job creation,” said Gov. Nikki Haley. “Reducing red tape and allowing Charleston’s harbor deepening project to advance will enable bigger ships to call our ports, bringing with them new opportunities to recruit businesses and create jobs. It will allow the Port of Georgetown to qualify for the necessary maintenance funds to restore its authorized depth, creating economic development opportunities for the Pee Dee region. I thank our federal delegation for their work on this bill and look forward to it becoming law.”
“The House took a step today that is vitally important for our state’s ports,” said state Sen. Larry Grooms, Chairman of the Review and Oversight Commission on SCPA. “Approving the Water Resources Reform and Development Act guarantees that the Charleston Harbor Post-45 Foot Deepening Project can move forward to construction without unnecessary delays. I commend our delegation for their unified vote in favor of this important piece of legislation.”
“WRRDA will have an enormously positive impact on important projects in our region,” said Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. “I would like to commend the delegation on working together across party lines to get this essential bill passed.”