For this blog entry, we defer content to an excerpt from recent commentary in the Journal of Commerce. The following is pulled from a March 21st piece by Peter Tirschwell, the Vice President for Strategy at UBM Global Trade. Please remember, this is from the Journal of Commerce — not a green publication and not a South Carolina publication.
“Unless a port-deepening project is specifically endorsed by the president and included in the submitted budget, it gets funded through earmarks– the antithesis of national policy-making–where the local congressional representative maneuvers for appropriations. Current projects to deepen the Delaware River from 40 to 45 feet and the Corpus Christi, Texas, ship channel from 45 to 52 feet have been funded entirely through earmarks. (emphasis added)
That’s changing under the austere budget climate in Washington. An earmark moratorium means the traditional route for funding non-administration-endorsed projects has been shut down, at least for now. Projects such as the 50-foot channel at the Port of New York and New Jersey and the deepening of channels to Sacramento and Stockton, Calif., received administration support with funds included in the budget request submitted on Feb. 14, and so are outside the earmark category.
Yet Delaware, Corpus Christi and Miami–all projects under construction or, in the case of Miami, “shovel ready”–saw nothing. Others that aren’t fully approved, such as Savannah’s 48-foot project and Charleston’s 50-foot ambitions, were virtually ignored. In a sign of the times, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., an opponent of earmarks, refused to support Charleston’s modest request for money to fund a study needed to advance its 50-foot project.
The result could–and should–lead to a new approach. Through the earmark moratorium, Congress has removed itself from decision-making, leaving ”the administration as the sole determinant for funding dredging projects. If the Congress can’t name projects, they have kind of taken themselves out of the game,” said David Sanford II, director of navigation policy and legislation at the American Association of Port Authorities.”