Agfax Buzz:
    June 10, 2014
    water_dam_corps_engineers

    Water Act Passage Important to Farmers – DTN

    AgFax.Com - Your Online Ag News Source

    By Chris Clayton, DTN Ag Policy Editor

    President Barack Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, known as WRRDA, in a ceremony early Tuesday.

    With more than 60% of farm commodities exported through rivers and ports, agricultural groups often consider WRRDA as much a priority as the farm bill.

    The bill cleared the House and Senate this spring with overwhelming support in both chambers. The bill authorizes spending $12.3 billion on 34 water resources projects across the country that have cleared technical reviews by the Army Corps of Engineers. The bill also includes some key overhauls to eliminate a backlog of idle projects and push the Corps to move quicker in studying and approving water-infrastructure projects.

    A key reform in the bill shifts funding responsibilities for the Olmsted Lock and Dam, a project on the Ohio River about 17 miles from where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers meet. Olmsted was authorized during the Reagan administration and expected to cost around $770 million. The project has become a symbol of a federal construction boondoggle with costs now approaching $3 billion and completion tentatively scheduled for 2020.




    The WRRDA bill relieves some of the funding for the project from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund with now 85% of project funding expected to come from other federal funds. That should free up another $105 million annually for other inland-waterway projects.

    The Brookings Institute noted that the bill also helps reduce the likelihood of Congress raiding the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The fund is in more demand for usage now because of eastern ports trying to deepen their ports to allow for bigger ships that will start moving through a new lock on the Panama Canal slated to open next year.

    WRRDA also eliminates as much as $18 billion in planned Army Corps of Engineers projects that have never gotten off the ground. It also is expected to accelerate project planning and development times that have stretched to longer than 15 years in some cases. The Corps would have three years to do feasibility studies and have a $3 million cap on the costs of those studies.

    The Army Corps will also get a chance to work in public-private partnerships to fund as many as 15 infrastructure projects.

    water_dam_corps_of_engineerWith WRRDA signed, the National Corn Growers Association also urged Congress to take the next step and approve a proposed increase in the diesel fuel user fee used to fund the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. “By increasing this tax between 6 and 9 cents per gallon of fuel, the industries using the waterways would be able to provide needed funds for the improvement and maintenance of the infrastructure on which they rely,” NCGA stated.

    The barge industry has been calling on lawmakers to approve the increase in the diesel tax as a way to fund more lock-and-dam projects, but lawmakers are reluctant to approve any measure that looks like a tax increase.

    The Illinois Corn Growers Association said more funding is needed as well, adding that current locks and dams are antiques that must be modernized.

    “Illinois corn farmers just cannot understand why Congress does not make building new locks and dams a priority,” said Illinois Corn Growers Association President Gary Hudson. “Farmers and other U.S. industry have the means to increase our exports and build economic activity within the U.S., but we simply cannot export more goods without upgrading our locks and dams. The funding to accomplish these goals will come from a barge user fee that industry supports, but is noticeably absent from this bill.”

    WRRDA also makes changes to the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Rule, or SPCC provision, on fuel taxes. The provision raises the exemption to 6,000 gallons aboveground for farms that have no history of spills. Farms with total aboveground storage between 6,000 gallons and 20,000 gallons also can self-certify their operations if they have not had spills and no single tank on the operation is 10,000 gallons of capacity or more. Those operations that do not meet these exemptions will require a spill containment plan, certified by a professional engineer.


    Tags: , , , , , ,

     
    Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
    Powered By DTN

    Leave a Reply

    Name and Email Address are required fields. Your email will not be published or shared with third parties.

    Sunbelt Ag News

      DTN Cotton Open: Trades Lower in Early Going07-29

      DTN Livestock Open: Lean Hog Futures on Defensive07-29

      DTN Grain Open: Futures Falter, Start Lower07-29

      Keith Good: Bugs’ Resistance to GMO Corn in Brazil Proving Costly07-29

      Grain TV: Increased Soybean Demand Rallies Market07-28

      Doane Cotton Close: Rebounds from Oversold Conditions07-28

      DTN Livestock Close: Feeder Futures Explode to New Record Price Levels07-28

      AFB Grain-Soybean Close: Wheat Unable to Follow Corn, Soybeans Higher07-28

      AFB Cotton Close: Moves Higher in Narrow Range07-28

      AFB Rice Close: Futures Down Slightly07-28

      Crop Progress: Corn, Soybean Conditions Decline, Still at Historical Highs – DTN07-28

      DTN Cotton Close: Higher on Suspected Weekend Business07-28

      DTN Grain Close: Soybeans Rally on Dry Forecast, Exports07-28

      DDGs: China Issues New Import Rules, U.S. Unlikely to Comply – DTN07-28

      Cattle: Minimizing the Risk of Scours — DTN07-28

      Good on Grain: Storing the 2014 Corn Crop07-28

      DTN Livestock Midday: Futures Pull Back from Early Highs07-28

      DTN Grain Midday: Soybeans and Corn Up, Wheat Lags07-28

      DTN Fertilizer Outlook: Domestic Ammonia Prices Down Slightly07-28

      DTN Cotton Open: Trades Modestly Ahead07-28

      Flint on Crops: Challenges for Farmers Keep Coming, Keep Changing07-28

      DTN Livestock Open: Cattle Complex Staged for Bullish Start07-28

      DTN Grain Open: Soybeans Start 10 Cents Higher07-28

      Keith Good: July 1 Cattle, Calf Inventory Comes in at Historic Low07-28

      USDA Commentary: Weekly Cotton Markets, Weather by Region07-25