(Photo Credit: USCG)
Recognizing the expanded need for coordination and information sharing between the federal, state and local governments at our ports, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed an executive order creating the California Maritime Security Council (CMSC).
"California's ports are vital not only to our own economy, but to the nation's economic health as well. Our state handles nearly half of all the port traffic in the United States and more than $4.5 billion in cargo moves through the Port of San Diego every year," said Gov. Schwarzenegger.
Reports recently published by the Rand Corporation and the Public Policy Institute of California underscored the importance of California's ports and the devastating impact a catastrophic event would have on California's economy. The formation of the CMSC would improve statewide collaboration and information sharing and identify areas where coordination will enhance security, emergency response and communications. The Council will pursue policies to prevent the occurrence of such a catastrophe and implement processes to mitigate the consequences of a terrorist attack or natural disaster at a port.
The CMSC will be comprised of top officials from OHS, U.S. Coast Guard, BT&H, National Guard, U.S. Navy and other agencies as well as Directors of California's major ports and representatives from the labor and business communities. It is anticipated that there would be no additional cost to the state for the Council.
The specific duties of the CMSC would include: identifying potential threats, improving security measures, procedures, and communications; coordinating contingency planning; coordinating information sharing; conducting training exercises; developing a statewide maritime security strategy; and preparing to quickly recover from a catastrophic event at a California port.
The Governor also thanked Representatives Dan Lungren and Jane Harman in spearheading the effort to pass a port security bill
that uses an accurate assessment of risk and needs to award Homeland Security grants
to our nation's ports.
"In the system used to award grants in the past, our state got shortchanged this year on federal funds for port security," said the governor. "Oakland, the fourth busiest container port
in the nation, received no funding. Los Angeles and Long Beach
, saw their funding cut in half. And San Diego, which handles more than $4.5 billion a year in cargo, received just $139,837 in federal funds. This is unacceptable."
Gov. Schwarzenegger sent a letter last month asking Congress to pass a measure that uses an accurate assessment of risk and needs instead of the formula previously used that left many of California's ports with decreased homeland security funds. This bill authorizes $400 million a year over the next five years in homeland security grants. Congress passed the bill recently and the President is expected to sign the bill later this week.
Source: Government Technology