President Clinton Declares Dredging "A National Concern"
Calling ship channel dredging "a national concern" essential to trade and prosperity, President Clinton declared, "I am convinced that we can find a way to dredge our nation's ports without compromising environmental protection." The President's remarks were directed to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), whose Dredging Caucus has pressed the Administration for sweeping reform of U.S. dredging regulations, which the group says unreasonably delay critically needed harbor projects. During a recent Dredging Caucus meeting, AAPA applauded the work to date of the federal Interagency Working Group on the Dredging Process, whichU.S. Transportation SecretaryFederico Pena appointed last fall. Port of Oakland Executive Director Charles R. Roberts and Port of New York/New Jersey Director Lillian Liburdi are the Caucus's co-chairs. At the AAPA's Annual Spring Conference, AAPAPresident Erik Stromberg read a letter from President Clinton which said: "I am calling on federal agencies to redouble their efforts, and urge the state, local, port, environmental and other interested groups to continue their joint efforts to find solutions to these (dredging) problems. Our nation's ports are a key link in the nation's intermodal transportation chain, and your continued success and support will be crucial to achieving our goals." The President acknowledged the significant economic contribution of ports, stating that, "The public port community will play a pivotal role as we expand export trading opportunities and create a truly global marketplace." In the letter, the President restated his belief, which is shared by U.S. ports, that environmental protection and port operations and development are compatible.
Members of the AAPA are calling on Congress to enact legislation to address the problems ports around the country face keeping their navigation channels open for trade.
AAPA seeks to amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) to reflect more closely the dredging and disposal needs of U.S. ports. As part of its National Dredging Proposal, the Association seeks adoption of a federal strategy which directs that federal agencies work together to facilitate dredging projects.