U.S. Ports Laud Additional Federal Security Grants

Wednesday, December 10, 2003
U.S. ports seeking federal grants for 1,065 security enhancement measures learned today that 442 of the plans will be funded. The news came as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) named recipients of $179,025,900 in the third round of federal grants for port security. Applications totaling over $987 million had been submitted by ports across the country seeking funding assistance in order to comply with new U.S. Coast Guard security regulations that take effect next year. The grants are a combination of $104 million in FY '02 funds and a portion of the $125 million in FY '04 appropriations for port security. "We applaud TSA for providing a considerable portion of the 2004 appropriation in this round of grants to help secure America's ports," stated AAPA President Kurt Nagle. "It is vital for our nation's security that these investments in port security be made in a timely manner." Nagle says federal assistance is key to ensuring ports can address enhanced security demands. "Public ports' financial resources pale in comparison to the enormous needs, yet America cannot afford for port security to go underfunded. While the latest round of funding is significant, it covers only about 18 percent of the costs ports identified in the security projects set forth in their recent applications." Nagle said ports have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars to boost security since 9/11, and expenses continue to rise. According to U.S. Coast Guard estimates, ports will need to spend $5.4 billion on enhanced security measures over the next ten years to comply with new federal regulations mandated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), with $1.125 billion of that to be invested in the first year alone. To help ports implement these heightened requirements MTSA calls for a federal grant program for port security. Since September 11, 2001, Congress has appropriated three rounds of TSA port security grants totaling $513.2 million and one $75 million grant from the Office of Domestic Preparedness. However, substantially greater resources are needed. For FY'05 AAPA urges a federal funding level of $400 million for TSA's port security grant program to cost-share with local port authorities and facility operators to make the enhancements required under the new regulations. While ports are challenged to manage security expenses of unprecedented magnitude, Nagle said they must simultaneously carry out their vital role as America's commerce catalyst. With 95 percent of international trade passing through U.S. ports and trade projected to more than double by 2020, ports are finding it necessary to spend about $1.7 billion per year on operations and another $1.5 billion annually on capital improvements to support burgeoning trade growth. "International trade has been growing steadily each year, with strong benefits to the American economy," said Nagle. "But that can only continue if ports are prepared to handle it - and that means investing now in both the immediate and long-range future. In terms of security, both physical and economic security are paramount to the country's wellbeing. America simply can't afford to compromise one for the other."

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