May 31, 2023 — “Port Precision” – A routine communication to all Port Managers covering matters that impact Oregon’s public ports by way of Business Oregon

Business Oregon Updates  
Staff Transition Today marks my last day as the Ports Program Policy Coordinator at Business Oregon. It has been my honor to work alongside you over the past year as we endeavor to move Oregon ports forward. I hope many of our paths will cross again in the future.

While the agency works through the hiring process for this position, if you have questions about ongoing Business Oregon-funded port projects, please contact Becky Bryant, Regional Project Manager: becky.bryant@biz.oregon.gov. If you have other port-related questions, please contact Jon Unger, Infrastructure Program Manager: jon.unger@biz.oregon.gov. Of course, your Regional Development Officers continue to be great resources.

With respect,
Courtney Flathers

Port Programs More information about the Port Planning and Marketing Fund and the Oregon Port Revolving Fund can be found in the downloadable guides at the linked webpages. Contact your Regional Development Officer if you want to discuss a potential application for either program.
Intergovernmental Updates
National Flood Insurance Program – Endangered Species Act Integration in Oregon Following findings that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in Oregon may harm salmon, steelhead, Southern Resident Killer Whale, and other endangered and threatened fish species, FEMA was required to make changes to how the NFIP is implemented in the state. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, FEMA is currently developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to identify potential social and economic impacts of the proposed changes.

In response to strong public interest, the EIS comment period was reopened for an additional 32 days, beginning May 25th and closing June 26th. FEMA has also scheduled two additional virtual public meetings on June 1 and June 7 from 4-6 pm. More information about the proposed plan, links to register for the public meetings, and information about how to submit public comments can be found on the project website.

National Special Districts Coalition (NSDC) Proposes Federal Definition of ‘Special District’ The National Special Districts Association (NSDC) announced that it has proposed a federal definition of “special district” for the first time. Despite approximately 35,000 special districts providing essential local government services to millions of Americans, there is no single definition for “special district.” The absence has led to inconsistencies in how special districts are referenced as eligible for federal programs and made it more difficult for special districts to access federally-sourced assistance for infrastructure projects and community programs.

NSDC’s proposed federal definition, which was unanimously approved by the NSDC Executive Committee, reads:

“Special District” – A political subdivision of a State, with specified boundaries, created pursuant to general law or act of the State, for the purpose of performing limited and specific governmental or proprietary functions, except that is not a school district, college, county, city, town, township, village, parish, borough, or other general purpose unit of government.”

The NSDC-proposed definition will be the cornerstone of future Coalition efforts to ensure special districts are eligible for relevant federal programs.

Coast Guard command center moves to Portland The U.S. Coast Guard command center previously attached to Sector Columbia River in Warrenton has relocated to Portland. The command center, formerly at the Astoria Regional Airport, guides information and monitors and coordinates all operations within the sector. Along with the shift to Portland, the command center has also been consolidated with the center attached to a Coast Guard air station at North Bend. Legacy telephone numbers will remain in effect for three months. After this three-month period, new telephone numbers will be used to reach command center personnel, as well as other agency departments.

  • New telephone number for emergency response: 833-PDX-USCG (833-739-8724)
  • New telephone number for Sector Portland automated directory: 833-771-2565
Water Resources Development Act of 2024 The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), typically considered by Congress every two years, is legislation that authorizes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) civil works activities. WRDA provisions generally add to or amend existing USACE authorizations and provide policy direction to the agency.

Please contact Ray Bucheger if you have policy challenges that may be addressed through WRDA so the FBB Federal Relations team can begin to develop concepts for consideration for WRDA 2024.

Federal Appropriations Update The FY24 appropriations process continues behind the scenes in Washington, D.C., though ongoing debt ceiling negotiations may stall the process somewhat. House Appropriations Committees have started to hold markups of FY24 spending bills. Following the markups, the House is expected to vote on the first four (of twelve total) appropriations bills, likely by mid-June. Action on Senate bills is expected later in the calendar year.
Resources  

 

Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Grant Program The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has opened applications for the first round of the PROTECT grant program. The program will invest in projects to make the country’s surface transportation system – including highways, public transportation, pedestrian facilities, ports, and intercity passenger rail – more resilient to the worsening impacts of climate change, while reducing long-term costs by minimizing demands for more expensive future maintenance and rebuilding.

The NOFO for FY22 and FY23 is available here. Applications are due August 18, 2023.

Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities (RTEPF) Grant Program The Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities Grant Program will award funding to projects that reduce truck emissions at ports, including through the advancement of port electrification and improvements in efficiency. The FY22 and FY23 funding available totals $160 million.

The NOFO is available here. Applications are due June 26, 2023.

Oregon Public Ports Federal Coordinating Committee (OPPFCC)  
  The OPPFCC met on May 26th. The discussion focused on the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations in Washington, D.C. and the potential implications for the FY24 appropriations cycle. This group will meet on an ad hoc basis while Business Oregon hires for a new Ports Program Policy Coordinator.
Oregon Public Ports Dredging Partnership (OPPDP)  
  The OPPDP met on April 26th to discuss several transition items. An updated IGA between Business Oregon and the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay (OIPCB) related to management and use of the state-owned dredge and equipment is nearing completion. There is interest in exploring the possibility of utilizing the state’s equipment in non-port public facilities when it is not otherwise in use at a public port. DEQ has agreed to join the OPPDP in the future to discuss the 401 Water Quality Certification program, specifically the fee structure. Finally, USACE provided a brief update on the summer dredging schedule and the status of jetty infrastructure projects. Dredging Partnership meetings will be on hold while Business Oregon hires for the Ports Program Policy Coordinator position.
Oregon Public Ports Training Program (OPPTP)  
  On May 25th Ray Bucheger (FBB Federal Relations) and Dena Horton and Anthony Peña (Pacific Northwest Waterways Association) provided a federal legislative update. The attention in Washington, D.C. is on the ongoing debt ceiling and budget cap negotiations. Any deal passed will likely have implications for federal spending programs, including programs that impact ports. The development of the 2024 Water Resources Development Act could begin as early this fall. FBB Federal Relations and PNWA have identified several topics for consideration and welcome additional feedback. There continues to be a significant amount of activity in the regulatory space, with both groups tracking efforts by NOAA Fisheries to reset the environmental baseline for maintenance projects and require significantly higher mitigation for maintenance permits, as well as the rollout of the NFIP-ESA Integration Plan in Oregon.
Stories of Interest  
OSU-led construction of new U.S. oceanographic research vessels The first of three new oceanographic research vessels dedicated to advancing marine science along U.S. coasts has successfully been launched. The ship, R/V Taani, is being constructed as part of a project, led by Oregon State University and funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, to provide scientists with valuable new tools to study critical issues such as rapidly changing ocean conditions and human impacts on the marine environment.
Cargo containers landed April 20 and 24 at Tillamook Airport to store supplies to help in a disaster To help Tillamook County prepare for a Cascadia earthquake event, the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Office of Resilience and Emergency Management delivered two large portable cargo containers filled with emergency relief supplies and equipment to the Tillamook Municipal Airport. These containers, called Conex boxes, were delivered in April and are part of an emergency preparedness partnership between ODHS, Tillamook County, Tillamook Municipal Airport and Near Space Corporation.