Washington, D.C. – Alaska Congressman Don Young successfully worked to include numerous provisions beneficial to Alaska in H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, bipartisan legislation to promote economic competitiveness and strengthen the nation’s water transportation and infrastructure needs – including harbors, locks, dams and flood protection. The bill, which unanimously passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee yesterday, authorizes harbor projects for Little Diomede and the City of Craig.
“As Alaskans, we understand the vital role of our ports, harbors, and waterways; they are critical lifelines for our state, coastal communities and local economies,” said Congressman Don Young. “This year’s WRDA bill builds upon a number of reforms made in 2014 to develop and improve much needed water infrastructure in Alaska and across the nation. To optimize the needs of local communities and streamline development of critical infrastructure, we worked in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a bill within the boundaries set by the earmark moratorium. I look forward to moving ahead on these important Alaska infrastructure projects, as well as enacting language that emphasizes the importance of Arctic port development.
The following reforms and provisions of Alaskan importance were supported by Congressman Young in the 2016 WRDA:
- LITTLE DIOMEDE, AK: The legislation authorizes the construction of a harbor in Little Diomede, AK.
- CRAIG, AK: The legislation authorizes the construction of a harbor in Craig, AK.
- CITY OF VALDEZ: The legislation includes a bill sponsored by Congressman Young, H.R. 5087, which removes a navigational servitude on waterfront land in Valdez that currently impedes economic development of the property. The bill removes the Federal Government’s taint on title in order to allow investment prospects for lands that were created due to dredging disposal from the construction of the harbor.
- SMALL REMOTE AND SUBSISTENCE HARBORS: The legislation makes reforms to the current system the Corps of Engineers uses to evaluate small, remote, and subsistence port and harbor projects, by recognizing the regional benefits for justification of the project. Increasing capabilities at a hub community will dramatically lower the costs of goods throughout the region, in many circumstances.
- EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES: Allows Alaska Native Corporations to develop water infrastructure projects as non-federal sponsors.
- ARCTIC PORTS: Congressman Young successfully included a two-part amendment to H.R. 5303 to help with a justification for an Arctic port: one change recognizes the value of a potential Arctic Port to the surrounding communities, and another to enables Corps to consider the national security benefits of an Arctic port.
Congressman Young offered his Arctic Ports amendment to H.R. 5303 (click here to watch)
“This is a very simple amendment – the consideration of the national security interests of the Arctic," said Congressman Young. "Many of you don’t realize, but this a hot spot in the world today. This is not about Alaska, this is about national security…. the activity, the exploration for minerals, oil, etc... [Our rival nations] are so far ahead of us that we’re not even on the same page. The Secretary of Defense strongly supports the concept of a port in the northern part of Alaska…Admiral Robert Papp does too… but we’re so far behind that if we don’t identify a potential port now, we will never be in a position to defend our shores or develop minerals or oil that’s needed."