A coalition of New Orleans customer brokers called on the industry on Monday to support legislation requiring the federal government to spend all harbor maintenance tax revenue on maritime projects.
William "Billy" App, Jr., president of J.W. Allen & Co., told members of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America that silting in harbors and channels “is an import issue.” App asked NCBFAA members to support legislation sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., that would stop the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund from being diverted into the Treasury Department’s general fund.
The HMTF receives about $170 million annually and has a surplus of more than $5 billion. Critics say that this allows the government to use the fund as a budget offset, rather than on maintenance for which it’s intended.
Freeing up that money for the Army Corp of Engineers could bridge the gap in funding needed for the $100 million dredging of the channel between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. The channel draft restrictions force vessels to carry lighter loads, causing operators to lose more than $1 million per trip. Silting in the river has been worse this year because of the spring floods upstream.
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