The Port Arthur News
WASHINGTON, D.C. —
The U.S. Thursday passed the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) (S.601), which maintains the flow of commerce by improving the nation's water infrastructure. The bill authorizes the proposed Sabine-Neches Waterway deepening project. The bill now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration, the final step before presidential signature.
“The Sabine-Neches Waterway deepening project supports critical U.S. energy and military infrastructure. It will strengthen America’s energy independence and generate thousands of American jobs,” said Paul Beard, Chairman of the Sabine-Neches Navigation District. “Access to abundant domestic natural gas resources has triggered a huge boom in refining and petrochemical activity and construction along the Gulf Coast. The project will provide the ability to sustain growth by allowing larger ships to reach local ports and critical industry along the waterway.”
The deepening project has received bipartisan support from both the Texas and Louisiana Congressional delegations and the many other states that benefit from the waterway.
The Sabine-Neches Waterway is the nation’s fourth largest waterway, transporting more than 100 million tons of cargo each year. It is the nation’s No. 1 crude oil import channel and home to the No. 1 commercial military outload port. Additionally, 55 percent of the nation’s strategic oil reserves are stored along the waterway. Refineries along the ship channel produce 60 percent of nation’s commercial jet fuel and the majority of U.S. military jet fuel.
Senate passage of the WRDA bill is a significant milestone in the process of acquiring federal authorization to deepen the channel. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed the Chief of Engineers Report for the project in July 2011, and the Assistant Secretary of the Army approved transmission of the project to Congress in November 2011.
The SNND, local sponsor of the waterway, has been working on environmental assessments and authorizations for the project for nearly 15 years.