Marine Log - June 2008 - (Page 20)
INSIDEWASHINGTON Needed: Congressional action to erase a ferry killer T he Harbor Maintenance Tax, in its present form, is a ferry killer and a major obstacle to the development of short sea shipping. The HMT is a levy placed on the value of cargo imported to a port within the U.S. or that is transported between two U. S. ports. The levy is assessed at a rate of 0.125% of the value of the cargo. It is assessed only once on cargo transported between one U.S. port to another (either at the point of departure or arrival— but not both); however, cargo carried from a foreign port may be taxed twice—once upon arrival at the initial U. S. port and again if transported to another U.S. port aboard a different vessel. Cargo transported on the inland waterways is subject to the Inland Waterways Fuel Tax instead of the HMT. The Great Lakes are not considered part of the inland waterways. Proponents of short sea shipping make three basic arguments for an exemption from the HMT: • They argue that the HMT puts short sea shipping at a competitive disadvantage vis a vis other modes (e.g., freight transported by trucks does not pay a specific comparable tax), including the possibility of double assessment of the HMT. • There can be multiple HMT charges for a single through-movement. For example, if a container is transported from Europe to New York, is taken off the ship, and reloaded on a short sea ship for transport to Baltimore, it would pay the HMT twice. • Since the HMT is assessed and collected from the shipper, not the carrier, the HMT discourages short sea shipment of consolidated loads. For example, if a FEDEX truck were to move 500 packages from New York to Jacksonville, Fla., on a short sea vessel, each of the 500 package owners would be responsible for paying the Harbor Maintenance Tax. Representatives Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) and Phil English (R-PA), Senior Members of the House Ways and Means Committee, have been trying to get passage of the “Great Lakes Short Sea Shipping Enhancement Act.” It would provide a narrow exemption to the HMT for the movement of non-bulk commercial cargo by water in the Great Lakes region. This includes the movement of freight and people between U.S. ports on the Great Lakes and between U.S. and Canadian ports on the Great Lakes. By removing the HMT as a disincentive, this legislation will encourage the development of new shipping services on the Great Lakes. This could lead to the creation of new jobs in the maritime sector and enable commerce, such as steel and automotive parts, to flow more efficiently in and out of Cleveland and Erie. It would also open the way for a proposed freight ferry between the Port of Erie and Canada. Alas, the bill is lingering in the Ways and Means Committee which, it seems, is unable to find an appropriate larger measure to which to attach it. More truck congestion between the U.S. and Canada. More wasted diesel fuel. More air pollution. 20 MARINE LOG JUNE 2008 YEARBOOK www.marinelog.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Marine Log - June 2008
Marine Log - June 2008
Innovation Needed to Meet Crew Shortage
Optimism Abounds Despite Slowing Economy
Can Shipping's Shopaholics Keep Up the Buying Binge?
Can Congress Keep Navy Shipbuilding Off the Rocks?
Fitting the Ultra-deepwater Pieces Together
Higher Demand, Higher Prices
Demand Up For Large Combination Vessels
The Dirty Truth About Emissions
SSAS: Realizing Its Potential
Fuel Saving Technology
Marine Log - June 2008