US port-related funding slashed

AAPA The AAPA said it is "apprehensive" about President Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget. Image: AAPA

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has said it is concerned over significant declines to federally funded, port-related programmes in President Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget.

It said that while the overall budget request is higher than last year's, all port-related programmes would receive less than in FY'20 appropriations.

“We’re very apprehensive about the President’s fiscal 2021 budget,” said Chris Connor, AAPA president and CEO. “Adequate federal investments into U.S. port-related infrastructure, on the landside and the waterside, are crucial for the safe, efficient movement of goods so the nation can remain globally competitive, and this budget doesn't get us there.”

Budgets under threat

Proposed for the budget chopping block is the USDOT’s Port Intermodal Infrastructure Program (PIIP), which began as the Port Infrastructure Development Grants program in FY'19. By the end of this fiscal year, the PIIP will have awarded more than US$500m in grants to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of multimodal movement through US seaports. The Department of Homeland Security’s Port Security Grants Programme (PSGP), which Congress last funded at US$100m, would also be eliminated if the president’s budget were implemented.

Additionally, President Trump has also proposed cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget by 31%. EPA’s budget funds the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants, which would be slashed by 89% over FY'20 enacted levels. These grants have proven helpful in decreasing port-related diesel emissions in near-port communities and have helped ports to make investments in clean diesel equipment that have resulted in reduced air emissions at the ports themselves.

The AAPA did welcome support in the budget for two vital US Department of Transportation (USDOT) competitive infrastructure grant initiatives, known as BUILD and INFRA.

Led by a 20% increase in construction funding, the president’s FY'21 budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coastal navigation programme would rise 10% compared to his FY'20 budget request. However, AAPA said this increase is still nearly 40% less than FY'20’s appropriated level.

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