Corps FY19 Budget: In this update, here’s the link to the President’s Corps earmarks for FY19. As you probably know, each Corps study, project and (most) programs are funded by earmarks. The President can make his; Congress cannot make any of their own. Here’s the link to the document that provides all the information about his earmarks, BCR’s etc.
I am also attaching a page that breaks down the budget by business line. Note that, following all the floods and storms of 2017, the President proposes to fund only 12 flood control construction projects (called flood risk management), 7 of those are also listed as “dam safety, seepage control, or static instability correction.” That is, they have purposes other than flood control. There are also 7 aquatic ecosystem restoration projects, one of which (Assateague) is along the coast. There’s funding for 2 major harbor expansion projects (Boston and Savannah). Inland waterway interests will be happy to see that the budget proposes to see the end of the massive Olmstead Locks and Dam project on the Ohio River. As with the Obama administration, the budget is strangling the Corps study budget. There’s less than $30 million for project-related programs, which hurts all those looking to get funding for new initiatives or to just finish the studies that have already been started.
Trump Infrastructure Plan: For an overview of the plan, this post from Politico will give you a good idea of the plan’s highlights. For the entire plan, click here. As the plan pertains to the coast, here are the points I see –
- The plan would permit the Corps to enter into multi-year contracts that exceed 5 years. In fact, it would permit the Corps to enter into contracts for up to 50 years. Presumably this assumes that a non-Federal interest (state, local government, or any private sector interest working as a partner with a state or local government) to take over operation and maintenance of a Corps project. Taking over a Corps project relieves the Federal government of responsibility for funding that project, although environmental and other regulations affecting the project would remain in effect.
- Streamline the process to deauthorize Corps projects in order to have at least certain types of those projects maintained and/or modified by a non-Federal interest and “release Federal and non-Federal resources to be used for other purposes.” Note, at the end of the 50-year “life” of a project, it is still a Federal project even if it’s no longer eligible for Federal funding. This means that regulatory processes such as Section 408 permits, still apply. Projects are already voluntarily deauthorized. This part of the plan would somehow streamline that process.
- Expand the authority to accept non-Federal funds (state and local government) as advanced or contributed funds even if no Federal funds have yet been appropriated.
- Allow the Secretary of the Army to waive cost limits on projects. This particular point is the one that may most affect shore protection projects since, over a period of 50 years, the costs of renourishment often mean that the cost limit include in the project’s congressional authorization is hit before the end of the 50-year economic life of the project. Here, too, there is a process involving a study and congressional action that is currently use to establish a new cost limit. This proposal would presumably make the process easier.
That’s what I can glean. I’m avoiding doing an analysis of this because I would like your input on these and other proposals in the plan.