April 7, 2016

Cassidy Pushes Louisiana Priorities in FAA Reauthorization Act

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. introduced amendments to the Senate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. He also announced he secured language in the bill to allow Hammond Northshore Regional Airport the ability to enter into the Federal Contract Tower Program. Read about Dr. Cassidy’s initiatives and see his comments below:

Hammond Northshore Regional Airport Allowance Into FCT Program

Current law requires the FAA to complete a Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) to determine the eligibility for airports to enter into the Federal Contract Tower (FCT) Program. Dr. Cassidy secured language in the FAA bill that would end the agency’s administrative prohibition on determining the airport’s eligibility based on this one factor. Currently, more than 30 air traffic control towers are waiting on the FAA to complete the BCA for acceptance into the FCT Program, including Hammond Northshore Regional Airport.


Dr. Cassidy has been urging the FAA to end this prohibition. Read the letter he led with Senators Vitter, Cornyn, Portman and Wicker HERE.


Dr. Cassidy also led a letter with the Louisiana delegation in October urging the FAA to accept Hammond Airport into the FCT program.  Read the letter HERE and see Dr. Cassidy’s comment below:


“The Hammond tower is a critical regional and national asset, serving as the staging area during natural disasters.  When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, hundreds of aircrafts and first responders used Hammond Northshore Regional Airport to aid in rescue and recovery efforts.”



Increased Trade Opportunities for Acadiana Regional Airport

The amendment authorizes Stage 2 aircrafts over 75,000 lbs the ability to fly into a small number of airports under limited circumstances, including Acadiana Regional Airport. Currently, many cargo planes from other countries are prohibited from flying into U.S. airports because they have not been upgraded from Stage 2 aircraft, which have been phased out in the U.S. due to noise concerns. 


Acadiana Regional Airport, which is uniquely situated in a heavily-industrial and agricultural area near the Port of Iberia, would benefit from the increased trade possibilities these flights would bring to the area. The Port is an oil and gas fabrication port with over 5,000 employees that is also home to over 100 companies encompassing varying industries such as construction, energy, equipment rental and trucking. 


A consistent supporter of investing in transportation infrastructure, Dr. Cassidy announced in September 2015 that the Acadiana Regional Airport will receive more than $2 million in federal grant funding from the FAA.


Read the amendment HERE and see Dr. Cassidy’s comment below:


“Our airports connect Louisiana products and families to the rest of the world. More than 5,000 workers and 100 companies in the Acadiana region would benefit from the potential trade opportunities these cargo planes would bring.”



LNG Tax Parity

Originally introduced with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) as the Waterway LNG Parity Act of 2015, this bipartisan amendment would ensure that excise taxes on liquefied natural gas (LNG) for marine transportation on the inland waterways are levied at a rate consistent with their energy output relative to diesel and gasoline, respectively. LNG is a cheaper, cleaner, domestic energy source and the current financing mechanism for the inland waterways system puts its use at a disadvantage. This legislation would change the inland waterways financing rate to provide equal treatment within the federal tax code.

This legislation is supported by industry groups including NGVAmerica, Clean Energy Fuels Corp, Energy Connects, Shell Oil Company, Blu LNG, Storage and Fuels, for AGL Resources, and Applied LNG.


Read the amendment HERE and see Dr. Cassidy’s comment below:


“It takes about 1.7 gallons of LNG to provide the same amount of energy as a gallon of diesel. Those who use LNG to power marine vessels would have to pay 50 cents in tax for the same amount of energy contained in a gallon of diesel fuel that is only taxed at 29 cents—that doesn’t make sense. By ensuring equal tax treatment for LNG, it encourages its use and its production—benefiting Louisiana’s economy and workers.”



Vessel Incidental Discharge Act

Introduced by Sen. Rubio and co-sponsored by Sen. Cassidy, this amendment would establish one nationally uniform standard for the discharge of ballast water.


With ports along the Mississippi and Red Rivers, Louisiana sees its share of vessels of varying size and type. While loading cargo, these ships must drain ballast water that they have taken on to maintain the balance of the ship. This can have varying degrees of environmental effects and costly and confusing state and federal regulations makes compliance difficult. This amendment would ensure that U.S. vessels will be subject to one set of standards for ballast water and other discharges – providing the certainty that vessel owners need to invest in effective on-board ballast water treatment.


Read the amendment HERE.