Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday re-introduced the Harbor Equity Act, which prioritizes smaller harbors for dredging work.
The Harbor Equity Act would benefit smaller harbors that could face shut-downs, such as the Hickman-Fulton County Riverport in Kentucky. The legislation requires the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize smaller harbors for dredging rather than just larger, commercial harbors. Without this prioritization, there would be a significant financial impact on farmers, towing companies, and the small communities they serve.
The Army Corps currently prioritizes harbor dredging for those harbors that see 1 million or more tons in traffic per year by relying on non-mandatory self-reporting by shippers. Setting the requirement for dredging eligibility at 1 million tons removes hundreds of small community harbors from Corps funding, which means they must fund their own dredging or shut down operations.
"These small harbors are the backbone of local commerce in small communities, facilitating the transport of agriculture and manufacturing products to larger ports," Sen. Paul said. "By dropping the minimum tonnage requirement - and using a more reliable and accurate metric for calculating tonnage - this bill will help ensure that smaller harbors are considered for the Corps' dredging efforts."