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Solution Proposed for Great Lakes Dredging Crisis
Recent news reports have spotlighted industry and port authority concerns about a threatened waterway crisis resulting from lack of adequate dredging in the Great Lakes. A House Bill seeks to address the root problem – H.R. 104, the RAMP Act (for Realizing America’s Maritime Promise).
The problem arises from the ability of Congress to use money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which was set up to fund operation and maintenance of ports and harbors, for purposes other than harbor maintenance. The Trust Fund is itself funded by the Harbor Maintenance Tax, a tax paid by shippers using ports based on the value of the goods being shipped through the ports. The tax and trust fund have themselves been controversial. Nevertheless, they provide a steady revenue source that can fund the necessary dredging if Congress would make the required appropriations. The RAMP Act seeks to require just that.