Ports Praise Funding But Need More

Tuesday, January 14, 2003
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) today praised the Transportation Security Administration for announcing the availability of $104 million in Federal grants for port security measures but cited government figures indicating that the sum represents just a fraction of what ports need to secure the nation's water borders.

"U.S. ports are pleased that another $104 million in Federal funds will be going toward port security," said Kurt J. Nagle, President of the American Association of Port Authorities. "However, the less than $200 million designated for ports thus far is only about one-fifth of what the government itself says is needed just in the first year."

Last spring, Congress gave ports an initial round of grants totaling $92.3 million for vulnerability assessments and implementation of security enhancements. At that time, ports applied for some $700 million in Federal funds. U.S. Coast Guard estimates, published December 30, 2002, in connection with passage of the Maritime Transportation Security Act, placed first-year costs for port security equipment and personnel at $963 million, followed by recurring annual costs of $535 million. The total facility enhancement cost is estimated at $4.4 billion to implement the Act.

"We remain hopeful that Congress and the Administration will make substantial additional general funds available so that our nation's ports may accomplish their objective of deterring terrorist attacks across our water borders," Nagle said. Ports are hopeful that the final FY'03 Budget being negotiated in Congress will provide additional funds. "We also look forward to the announcement that an additional $20 million in FY 2002 funds will be available for port security incident training and exercises."

Nagle noted the importance of securing water borders, citing a recent key recommendation of the Council on Foreign Affairs that urged, "Recalibrate the agenda for transportation security; the vulnerabilities are greater and the stakes are higher in the sea and land modes than in commercial aviation." Airports have received well in excess of $500 million in Federal funds for security enhancements following September 11, 2001.

"Consider that U.S. ports handle 95 percent of our nation's overseas trade by volume, including most imported crude petroleum," Nagle said. "If there should be a terrorist incident at any of our nation's ports, the U.S. maritime system could come to a screeching halt, subjecting our country to economic paralysis. In addition, the mobilization and deployment of our U.S. Armed Forces - which is being stepped up right now - is heavily reliant on ports," he added.

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