Senator’s Key Provisions Signed into Law in Final WRRDA Bill
Cutting Red Tape for Funding Alaska Ports, Harbors
U.S. Senator Mark Begich today hailed the final approval of major ports and harbors legislation as a big win for Alaska after President Obama signed the Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) into law.
The bill governs how the Army Corps of Engineers constructs ports, harbors and coastal erosion projects. While this is the first water infrastructure without earmarks, Begich fought to find new ways to ensure Alaskans needs are prioritized. WRRDA includes several key Alaska provisions thanks to Begich's leadership.
"Now that this important piece of legislation is finally signed into law, we can get to work investing in Alaska’s ports, harbors and other waterways projects,” said Begich. “Today’s bipartisan progress will translate into more jobs for Alaskans, the elimination of bureaucratic red tape, and an economic boost for our local communities.”
Begich was pleased to announce several Alaska-specific provisions he has championed:
Streamlining small harbor project approval and dedicating funds for Alaska: The provision included at Begich’s request represents a major overhaul of how port and harbor projects can be built in Alaska. The new language would allow small projects to avoid a cumbersome approval process in which they had to compete for funding with much bigger ports. Under the agreement small, remote and subsistence harbors in Alaska, Hawaii and the U.S. territories can receive dedicated funding of up to $10 million per project.
Arctic ports partnership: The provision, which was originally an amendment offered by the Alaska delegation, expands the authority of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to engage in partnerships with state, local and tribal governments to develop deep water ports in the Arctic.
Development of Seward harbor uplands: A provision, included at Begich’s request, allows recently filled-in uplands from Seward’s harbor expansion to be developed by removing a longstanding classification as navigable waters and allowing clear titles to the land to be issued. Begich said he looks forward to development of these nine acres of waterside property.
Continuation of Tribal partnerships: A final provision authorized the continuation of the Army Corps successful Tribal Partnership Program, which allows the Army Corps to conduct studies to determine the feasibility of development projects that will substantially benefit Alaska Native villages.
Posted: June 10, 2014