Public Port Authorities are commending President Bush for
signing two key pieces of legislation that combined establish a framework
for protecting the United States from maritime terrorism.
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Maritime Transportation Security
Act were both signed into law at the White House yesterday.
The new Department of Homeland Security will
coordinate all border security
functions, including those that will be responsible for maritime security,
such as the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs Service, the Transportation
Security Administration and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The new Department will take the lead in implementing much of the Maritime
Transportation Security Act.
“We applaud this historic effort to facilitate a coordinated approach to
the imperative task of securing our borders and our ports,” said Kurt J.
Nagle, President of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).
“By creating a united front against terrorist threats to the nation,
President Bush and Congress have boldly taken action that we believe is
essential in protecting the vital interests of the U.S. port industry and
our overall national economy and security,” Nagle continued. “U.S. ports
handle 95 percent of overseas trade by volume and support the mobilization
and deployment of our armed forces.”
AAPA, representing the interests of U.S. port authorities, has strongly
supported actions to enhance maritime security, which is the top priority
of the nation’s ports. The association also endorsed the Maritime
Transportation Security Act’s establishment of a Federal grant program to
help America’s ports make necessary physical and procedural security
enhancements in a timely and effective manner.
“We are anxiously awaiting the announcement of the availability of a second
round of port security grants
. Since September 11, 2001, only $92.2
million has been made available for seaports - less than one-fifth of what
has been spent at airports,” Nagle said.
It is estimated that it may take as much as a $2 billion investment to
secure America’s ports.
The port security grants
not only will help to enhance infrastructure but
also will advance port-specific security training so that personnel are
better prepared to avert and deter risks. “Ports have always been at the
forefront of ensuring security, and this Federal support will help us
address the new threat from terrorism in a timely and effective manner,”