Lautenberg introduces bill to eliminate tax on coastal shipping

[B][B]Hi Folks,[/B][/B]
[B]I wrote to both of my Senators asking them to do what they could to support this legislation.[/B]

[I]N.J. Sen.'s Bill Would Encourage Shipping by Sea on Coastal Routes[/I]
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) this week introduced a bill to reduce congestion on the nation’s roads by eliminating a significant tax on shipping over coastal waterways. Sen. Lautenberg’s bill would exempt from the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) the shipping of domestic cargo along coastal routes.
“With so many cars and trucks already on the road, we need more efficient methods to meet our nation’s shipping needs,” said Sen. Lautenberg, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security. "This bill would provide much-needed tax relief, and make our nation’s waterways a more viable and affordable alternative for freight transportation."
The HMT was implemented in 1986 as a federal tax on freight cargo and cruise ship passenger tickets. Designed to raise revenue to offset certain harbor infrastructure costs, the tax has accumulated a year-end balance of more than $3.75 billion. Exempting “coastwise” shipping from the HMT is projected to cost the federal government only a small fraction of this revenue, but would provide substantial encouragement to expand the use of coastal waterways for cargo shipping and help improve our environment and reduce energy costs.
Right now, the United Stated ships approximately two percent of its domestic freight by water whereas Europe and China ship 44 and 61 percent, respectively. Industry experts note that maritime shipping is one of the most energy-efficient means of transportation, moving one ton of freight 576 miles on one gallon of gas. Research has shown also that marine travel produces fewer emissions than both railroads and trucks.
Lautenberg chairs the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine, which has jurisdiction over maritime shipping. This legislation, S. 551, has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance, which oversees issues of tax policy.