WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 16, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — The Senate, by a bipartisan vote of 83-14, approved the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (WRDA) today, a major bill that authorizes ports, navigation and flood control projects and includes an important provision inserted into the bill by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich to help Alaska develop its remote harbors. It also includes an amendment from Begich and Sen. Lisa Murkowski to help spur the development of a deepwater port in the Arctic.
The provision for remote and subsistence harbors sets aside $100 million over 10 years to allow the U.S. Army Corps of engineers to plan, design, and construct harbors in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. It also eliminates the need for every project to be voted on by Congress multiple times.
“Ports and harbors are economic lifelines to Alaskan communities, especially those off of the road network. For too long a cumbersome bureaucratic process has blocked the Army Corps from moving these vital projects forward,” said Sen. Begich. “This provision for remote harbor development will help get the port development process ‘unstuck’ in Alaska. It’s a major win for our remote communities.”
The Arctic deepwater port partnerships amendment, co-sponsored by Begich and Murkowski, passed the Senate by unanimous consent and gives the Army Corps the authority to partner with state, local or tribal governments to plan, design, construct or maintain deepwater ports in the Arctic region.
“This amendment is an important step in the process to create a deepwater port in the Arctic,” said Begich. “Whether we like it or not, the shrinking Arctic sea ice is opening up a new frontier of maritime commerce and development. We need to prepare for this increased activity and a deepwater port will be vital for safety, commerce and protection of the region.
Throughout this process we must ensure that local communities have a greater say in when, where and how Arctic ports will be developed.”
Begich and Murkowski were successful in including an amendment which allows Seward to begin to develop land that was created during its recent harbor expansion. The amendment also includes Alaska in a special process that was previously only open to Hawaii and Puerto Rico and provides expedited Army Corps study of proposed port projects.
“I’m pleased to see that the Senate can come together to pass important and far-reaching legislation like WRDA,” said Begich. “Partisan politics can make it hard to do business in this town. Senator Murkowski and I try to lead by example, which is why we share ideas and co-sponsor legislation when we can.”
Heather Handyside, Press
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