The Senate-passed transportation bill gave advocates for more dredging funds good news on Wednesday.
The bill included a “sense of the Senate” clause that that makes a strong recommendation that the government use all revenue paid into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for dredging harbors and channels. Currently, the government collects some $1.4 billion annually, but spends less than $1 billion on dredging. The trust fund currently has a surplus of more than $6 billion.
The clause is aligned with bills filed by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., that would require all HMT revenue to be dedicated to dredging — known as the RAMP Act (Realizing America’s Maritime Promise) — but does not have the force of law.
“We look upon this as an encouraging step,” said Barry Holliday, chairman of a coalition coalition promoting the RAMP. “It shows the Environment and Public Works Committee that this is a big issue.”