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Reps. Babin and Green Introduce Bill to Improve Port Safety

(SPECIAL TO THE LEADER) —

Washington, DC – U.S. Reps. Brian Babin (TX-36) and Gene Green (TX-29) yesterday introduced the Waterway Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 3315) to enhance navigation and safety in our nation’s ports, including the Port of Houston. This legislation addresses longtime concerns on the Port of Houston waterways with clarifying language and by granting discretionary authority to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) — the entity in charge of Port maintenance.

“The Waterway Safety Improvement Act will provide much-needed flexibility and resources to ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers can properly maintain our nation’s ports and address any safety issues in a timely manner,” said Rep. Babin. “This legislation will benefit our area tremendously and further strengthen the Port of Houston as a world leader in the maritime industry. I am proud to lead this effort with my colleague Rep. Gene Green to help improve the safety and reliability of our ports.”

The USACE plays a key role in America’s well-being by keeping waterways open for navigation and commerce. Deepening and widening of waterways, such as ports and ship channels for the safe commercial waterborne traffic is a top priority for the Corps. Texas is the largest maritime state in the United States, with over 17,000 deep draft ships transiting the Port of Houston annually. Nationally, the Port of Houston ranks number one in foreign tonnage and is the second largest port in the country by all tonnage.

Rep. Green said, “I am pleased to introduce the Waterway Safety Improvement Act with my colleague Rep. Brian Babin. Incidents and collisions can have a high cost on the national and local economy, and an even bigger cost on local communities and the environment. The Waterway Safety Improvement Act would enhance efficiency and navigation control by increasing the depth, width and navigation of the area, particularly in turning basins. We want to ensure the USACE has the authority to complete dredging operations under existing authorities and not have to come back to Congress every time a question arises.”

“The Corps should have the flexibility to address immediate and critical safety issues that arise on busy waterways such as the Houston Ship Channel,” said Janiece Longoria, Chairman of the Port of Houston Authority. “This tool can help the Corps better improve safety and navigation efficiency on dynamic waterway systems, prevent incidents that can close waterways, and protect health and safety, as well as the economy.”