Senate Passes Key Infrastructure Provisions for Alaska Ports and Harbors

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) celebrated today’s passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 on the Senate floor. The legislation includes key victories for Alaska infrastructure, including increased cost-sharing for the Nome Arctic Deep Draft Port (resulting in community savings of $132 million) and authorization for the Elim Subsistence Harbor project.

Following unanimous passage in the EPW Committee, the legislation passed the Senate floor by a vote of 93-1. It now moves on to the House of Representatives. 

“Alaska is a resource-rich, but infrastructure-poor state,” Senator Sullivan said. “The Army Corps of Engineers continues to do its vital work throughout Alaska, and this legislation provides the tools needed to support new water resources infrastructure and improve existing projects. Since serving as a senator for Alaska, I’ve been advocating for projects that will help our state realize its full economic potential and keep our citizens safe. 

“I also want to thank my fellow committee members for their continued recognition of the vital role Nome’s deep-water port will play in advancing America’s capabilities in the Arctic,” Sullivan said. “The Port of Nome is positioned to play a critical role in ensuring the United States is a leader in the Arctic region in terms of national security, international trade, and geopolitical influence.” 

“With more coastline than the entire Lower 48, Alaska’s ports and harbors are essential to our coastal communities and the safe and efficient operation of our marine transportation system. The Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA, provides the Army Corps of Engineers with necessary resources and enhanced authorities to fulfill its mission in Alaska so that we can continue to improve Alaska’s ports and waterways, spur economic development, protect the environment, and so much more,” said Senator Murkowski. “I applaud Senator Sullivan for his work on the EPW Committee and strongly support many of the provisions he helped secure, particularly a provision to support Nome’s deepwater port and a new program for communities that are increasingly threatened by storm damage and coastal erosion. For a coastal state like Alaska, this legislation—and the support it brings our ports and harbors—is crucial.” 

Key provisions for Alaska in WRDA 2022: 

  • Authorizes the navigation project for the Elim Subsistence Harbor: Federal cost share: $74.905 million. Non-federal cost share: $1.896 million. Total cost: $76.801 million.
  • In recognition of the strategic importance to the nation, modifies the cost share for Nome Arctic Deep Draft Port to provide the community with significant savings.
  • Creates a program for projects to address storm damage prevention and reduction, coastal erosion, and ice and glacial damage in Alaska with a 10% cost share for economically-disadvantaged communities.
  • Provides relief to the City of St. George from retroactive cost increases associated with the previously completed harbor project.
  • Directs the Corps to expedite the Juneau Auke Bay wave attenuator study.
  • Authorizes and improves the Tribal Partnership Program, revising the cost share requirements for projects and studies carried out in partnership with Indian tribes.
  • Improves the technical assistance authorities of the Corps. 

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