Secretary Ray LaHood and Administrator David Masuda went before Congress this March with their respective DOT and MARAD budgets for 2012. And, as usual, the U.S maritime was left out of America's plans for cleaner, safer and more fuel efficient modes of transportation for domestic commerce. DOT-MARAD essentially shelved the marine highways program and job creation for waterfront and shipyard workers till later in the decade.
The DOT and MARAD budgets are extremely short-sighted and lack leadership because their funding schemes have totally eliminated coastwise and inland transportation as viable solutions to U.S energy and urban congestion problems. Last week, API reported the national average for gas was $3.621 per gallon, up 118.6 percent from its December 2008 low of $1.670. And, last week's crude oil prices hit a 2011 high of $114.93 per barrel on fears of Middle East instability and limited oil and gas production activity in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
America's natural transportation resources are exceptional. Millions of tons of domestic cargoes could be transported through the renewable marine highways consisting of 95,000 miles of coastline and 25,000 miles of navigable inland waterways and lakes. But, the DOT-MARAD budgets lack forward thinking agendas about this nation's energy dependence on foreign oil, atmospheric pollution from greenhouse gases, and urban congestion. Instead of initiating marine highway programs, the administration opted to continue throwing billions of dollars to keep fixing broken roadways and bridges and for less efficient modes of transportation.
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