Transcript: American Association of Port Authorities Remarks
REMARKS AS DELIVERED BY
MARITIME ADMINISTRATOR REAR ADM. (RET) ANN PHILLIPS
AT AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PORT AUTHORITIES
On behalf of the Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration, I am so happy to be here today and update you on the work that MARAD is implementing at this extraordinary moment!
I was confirmed in May.
And let me tell you, it is the honor of a lifetime to serve as the 20th Maritime Administrator as we work to advance MARAD’s mission and responsibility to foster, promote, and develop the maritime industry to meet our nation’s economic and security needs—and to implement the historic investments in our nation’s ports and waterways made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
This is truly an unprecedented time at MARAD and throughout the Department of Transportation.
We are administering the once-in-a-generation investments that are meeting this extraordinary moment when Americans are talking at their dinner tables about “supply chains” and seeing, perhaps for the first time, the critical roles that our ports and international shipping play in moving the goods on which our economy depends.
Our job is to get these investments to work in our ports and waterways as quickly as possible—and to do so as thoughtfully and deliberately as we can to ensure that investments strengthen the resiliency of our supply chains, support equity, and address the many environmental impacts of port operations—including the disproportionate effects of these environmental impacts on low-income communities and communities of color.
Before I discuss our investments in more detail, let me thank Mr. Connor and all members of the American Association of Port Authorities for your close work with the Maritime Administration to develop and roll out a Port Planning and Investment Toolkit.
This kit provides practical information on how sponsors can plan, finance, and advance projects that will improve the movement of freight. Ports need practical tools to help them make the most of the investments that are available and I thank the AAPA for your work to help provide these tools.
Ports are eligible for funding under several of the Department’s major infrastructure grant programs and, of course, under the Port Infrastructure Development Program and the America’s Marine Highways program.
Today, I want to talk briefly about these many grant opportunities. Let me start by discussing the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, which provides support to help communities advance projects that modernize roads, bridges, transit and rail systems, ports, and intermodal transportation networks.
The total amount of funding available under the RAISE program this year was $2.275 billion—and half of the money was designated for projects in rural areas.
In August, our Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, announced that the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded RAISE funding to more than 160 projects nationwide, and ten of these projects are port projects. For example, the Tampa Port Authority received $12.6 million to help construct a new berth of approximately 3,000-linear-feet that will be capable of simultaneously docking three dry bulk/multi-purpose cargo vessels. Secretary Buttigieg visited the Port just a few weeks ago to see first-hand the impact this grant will make.
The County of Miami-Dade’s Port of Miami received $16 million to expand intermodal rail capacity and optimize its cargo gate. Rail capacity will increase by approximately 3,200 feet and the cargo gate will include roadway re-alignments to and from cargo gates, rehabilitation of the stormwater management to address sea level rise, cargo gate canopies, staging areas for trucks, direct access to rail yard gates, and gate technology upgrades.
And the North Carolina State Ports Authority received $18 million to help construct a state-of-the-art area for loading and discharging containers on and off rail at the Port of Wilmington.
All told, the ten port projects that received funding under the RAISE program were awarded more than $158 million in federal funds and have committed more than $93 million in matching funds.
MULTIMODAL PROJECT DISCRETIONARY GRANT PROGRAM
While there are many grant programs through which ports and waterways can seek funding, we also understand that submitting a competitive application is a time-consuming process. This year, the Department issued a new single notice of funding opportunity known as the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Program or “MPDG.”
The purpose of the MPDG is to reduce the workload on applicants and increase the pipeline of eligible projects by enabling entities to submit one application that can be considered under three different programs, including: the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America, or “INFRA;” the National Infrastructure Project Assistance grant program, known as “MEGA;” and the Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program.
The MPDG can provide Federal financial assistance to a wide range of projects that will improve freight movement, including marine highways, as well as multi-modal projects and projects of national and regional significance.
The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the MPDG was published on March 25, 2022, and applications were due in mid-May. Funding for this overall program is $2.8 billion.
Applications are still under review and awards are anticipated by the end of the calendar year. The next round will open next year.
PORT INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Now let me drill into the programs administered directly by the Maritime Administration.
Thanks to the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, over the next five years, the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) will invest $2.25 billion to strengthen ports across the nation.
To put this figure in perspective, the funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for PIDP alone is roughly the same amount of money that had been invested in ports by all DOT grant programs prior to the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law since DOT began investing in ports with the 2009 Recovery Act.
The first notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) for PIDP funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure law was released just three months after the law was enacted—ensuring that we could begin to get money out the door as quickly as possible.
The first round of PIDP funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law totals $450 million—an investment that is almost double the amount provided last year and is the largest single investment in the program ever.
And an additional $234 million dollars was provided for the PIDP program in Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations, bringing the total amount of funding available this year to more than $680 million.
Applications for consideration in this year’s PIDP funding were due in May and we plan to announce recipients later this month.
AMERICA’S MARINE HIGHWAY PROGRAM
We’re also making historic investments to support increased utilization of our nation’s inland and near coastal waterways to move freight.
There are currently 29 Marine Highway Routes reaching 41 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories, and there are currently 58 Designated Marine Highway Projects.
Since 2010, the Marine Highways program has made 44 awards totaling approximately $51.7 million to 25 Designated Marine Highway Projects.
On April 26, 2022, the Maritime Administration announced the availability of $25 million in new funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the America’s Marine Highways program.
This available funding was then increased to approximately $39 million following the addition of funds from the FY 2022 Appropriations measure.
And just last month, we announced that this $39 million had been awarded to 12 marine
highway projects across the nation under the America’s Marine Highway Program. Among the projects that received awards were the:
M-5 Coastal Connector Project, which will fund infrastructure upgrades in San Diego to support a barge service that will move building materials as well as containers along the U.S. west coast between California and Washington State.
The Helena Harbor M-55 Container on Barge Project in Arkansas received more than $2.8 million to purchase equipment to improve terminal operations.
And the Port Authority of St. Louis’ Municipal River Terminal and Madison Harbor in Illinois will share more than $2.4 million in funding to expand their ability to load cargo onto barges.
These are just some of the exciting projects that received funding—and that will help us increase our utilization of our inland waterways.
Finally, let me also take a moment to explain that the investments made possible by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are also helping us address the climate crisis we face by significantly expanding our renewable energy capabilities, including offshore wind.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to reaching 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by the year 2030. That’s enough power to meet the demand of more than 10 million American homes for a year. It would also prevent 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.
Achieving this ambitious goal will trigger more than $12 billion per year in capital investment in projects, create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs, and employ more than 44,000 workers in offshore wind by 2030 while creating tens of thousands of additional jobs in communities supported by growth in the offshore wind industry.
The Maritime Administration is supporting this effort in two ways.
First, port projects that support offshore wind developments are eligible for funding under the Port Infrastructure Development Program.
In 2021, before the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, there were 108 eligible applications for PIDP funding and several referenced some sort of wind energy component.
And last year’s awards—which were made before I arrived at MARAD!—included grants for projects that will support offshore wind development.
For example, the Portsmouth Marine Terminal Offshore Wind Development project award will fund improvements to the Portsmouth Marine Terminal that will enable it to serve as a staging area to support offshore wind projects.
This year, we again have many applications seeking funding for components of port projects that would support offshore wind development!
The Maritime Administration also provides loan guarantees to support ship construction in U.S. shipyards.
For those who may not be familiar with it, the Federal Ship Financing Program—commonly called “Title XI” because of its location in the Merchant Marine Act of 1936—provides full faith and credit guarantees to promote the growth and modernization of the U.S. merchant marine and U.S. shipyards.
The Title XI program has the ability to provide guaranteed loans for longer terms, higher loan-to-value amounts, and lower interest rates than are typically available through private lenders—and this program is available to help finance new construction or refinance vessels that are already constructed.
Since 1993, Title XI has provided $9.3 billion in loan guarantees.
The Title XI statute was amended in 2019 to make several important changes to the program.
One change gave MARAD the authority to designate “Vessels of National Interest.” This designation enables us to prioritize and expedite specific applications.
I recently designated the vessels that service offshore wind farm facilities as Vessels of National Interest—and these are the first vessels to be designated under this authority.
This designation reflects the Administration’s commitment to supporting construction of vessels to service offshore wind terminals.
Several American shipyards have already secured contracts to build vessels to service offshore wind development—and we have had a surge in expressions of interest in the Title XI program since we announced the national interest designation for offshore wind vessels.
I encourage you to be in touch with the Maritime Administration to learn more about any of the grant programs I discussed here today—or about any aspect of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
We have Gateway Offices around the nation—and the staff at these offices are available to answer your questions and to explain in detail the timing of and qualifications for our many grant programs.
These offices are intended to be a resource to you and I urge you to get to know your local Gateway Director!
Ladies and gentlemen, President Biden is leading a historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure—an investment that will help us not only improve mobility and strengthen our economy, but also help us move to a better future.
We at the Maritime Administration and throughout the Department of Transportation are bringing every tool we have to support the priorities I described today—and we appreciate the critical support of our partners, including the American Association of Port Authorities.
Thank you for the opportunity to join you today and thank you for the critical discussions you are leading.