Editorial : November-December-2013
While the inactive government has moved forward for now, the effects of the government shutdown on the dredging industry are highlighted in this issue. The line between essential and nonessential government activities, when it starts shutting things down, can be blurred, depending on where you’re standing.
On the side of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is already dealing with budget cuts, the government shutdown tightened things more. The Corps shut down all of its regulatory offices, along with other parts of the federal government. Many recreation areas were closed early, during the busiest fall tourist season.
The USACE Eastern Region Dredging Meeting, scheduled for October 16, did have approval at the beginning of October, but the meeting was ultimately cancelled. The WEDA Eastern Chapter meeting, which was originally scheduled to coincide with the dredging meeting the day before, proceeded. Even before cancelling the meeting altogether, Corps attendance was severely limited already, and they were not approved to attend the WEDA meeting at the expense of the Corps. The WEDA Eastern Chapter meeting did continue on without them, and at a change of venue. The meeting moved from Springfi eld, Virginia, to downtown Washington, D.C., and two speakers were furloughed. See the story on page 22.
Fortunately, government action resumed October 17, in time to pass the Water Resources Reform and Development (WRRDA) Act a few days later. The article about WRRDA on page 6 explains the bipartisan support for this bill. It was noted (and truly noteworthy) that such wide support for water transportation and water resource infrastructure was not so, when the last WRDA passed in 2007. I think that is especially noteworthy in stark contrast to the government shutdown and Congress’ complete inability to act in a bipartisan way on any other issue before them. It’s really a testament to the waterway advocate organizations and stakeholders who made it a bipartisan issue by educating those in Washington.
The other Corps of Engineers initiative, in stark contrast to the government shutdown, is the coastal restoration work in response to Hurricane Sandy.
This issue has an update from the Corps New York District, which is executing a $3 million initiative with more than 60 projects. See the article on page 26.
Many contractors are reaping the rewards from Sandy Bill restoration projects, including Great Lakes Dredge & Dock. As we were wrapping up this issue, it reported a record third quarter, very much because of Sandy restoration contracts, totaling nearly $55 million, 150 percent more than this quarter last year. For more about GLDDs third quarter, see the story on page 30.
Some final food for thought: An article in Forbes by Glenn Nye and Dan Grant informs us that the shutdown came while the U.S. was negotiating two of the largest trade deals in history: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with the European Union; and the Trans-Pacifi c Partnership (TPP), with 11 Pacifi c rim countries and potentially a minimum of half a dozen more, the authors write.
These deals will put the U.S. at the center of two massive free trade zones spanning from Indonesia to Poland, with a potential gross domestic product value of $48 trillion, two-thirds of the planet’s GDP. The agreements have the potential of setting the standards for global capitalism in the twenty-fi rst century, the article states.
The government shutdown stopped this negotiation process and cast serious doubt on the U.S as a reliable trading partner. The prospect of the federal government defaulting on its debts undermined faith in American treasury bonds and weakened America’s potency in the global market, said Nye and Grant.Edit Module