The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Waterways Council against infrastructure user fee plan

Waterways Council, Inc., which lobbies in Washington for locks and dams, said today that President Barack Obama’s proposal for financing waterways infrastructure would be “counterproductive.”

In his jobs plan, Obama noted that revenue from the fuel tax, used to finance 50 percent of most inland waterway improvements, has declined, and proposed a new user fee the White House said would generate about $1 billion of additional revenue into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund over the next 10 years.

The Waterways Council said the administration’s plan “may be unworkable in its current form,” and would more than double the amount of taxes and fees on commercial shippers. It also said the new fees would discourage use of the waterways and discriminate against shippers and industries that locate along waterways served by locks and dams, de-leveling the competitive playing field.

“We urge Congress to not delegate to the secretary of the Army the unfettered discretion to impose fees on one beneficiary in any amount at any time as one unelected official sees fit,” the group said. “Congress has never delegated the power to tax to the executive branch, and we urge our elected officials to continue this precedent.”

Waterways Council's Inland Waterways Capital Development Plan Executive Summary