Port Group Wants More Federal Money For Dredging

The Greater Houston Port Bureau surveyed 132 companies that do business on the Houston Ship Channel. 

Using investment data from 51 of those companies, the survey estimates port-related businesses will spend about 21 billion dollars on capital and maintenance projects between now and 2015.  That investment is expected to employ close to 112,000 people. 

The Port Bureau is headed by retired Coast Guard Captain Bill Diehl.

"Without a ship channel you don't have these industries, and without these industries, where would Houston be?  I mean, it's that clear. The companies are relocating here,  to Houston, because they're looking at global markets now."

The Port Bureau is made up of businesses around the region connected to the maritime industry. 

As for how the bureau will use the numbers, Diehl says one of the goals is to encourage lawmakers to allocate more money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. 

The Corps of Engineers uses that money to dredge channels at U.S. ports, to keep them from becoming narrow and shallow.  

"We basically as a community pay into the Harbor Maintenance Fund, a tax where the shippers, the importers, will pay about 130 million dollars a year. We're getting back about 20 million to keep our channel dredged.  We need about 50 million a year."  

There's currently a bill winding its way through Congress that would prohibit the government from spending money from the fund on anything other than harbor maintenance and dredging. 

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