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,” Nagle said.