At two separate Congressional hearings, representatives of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) emphasized the need for federal support for seaport security and maintenance and improvements to federal navigation channels. Port industry leaders illustrated the challenges underfunding security and dredging pose for national security and U.S. international competitiveness.
As the House Appropriations Committee begins work on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, AAPA executives reminded Congressional leaders of the critical role ports play for the nation – serving as a front line of defense on international borders and facilitating overseas trade, 99 percent of which moves by water.
Captain John Holmes, Deputy Executive Director of Operations at the Port of Los Angeles, testified before the Homeland Security Subcommittee regarding Port Security Grants within the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The fiscal year 2012 funding level represents a 59 percent cut from the prior year and 75 percent less than the authorized level,” Holmes stated. “This will harm our ability to expand protection of our maritime assets, carry out Port-Wide Risk Management Plans, and fund federal mandates, such as installation of TWIC readers.”
Kurt Nagle, President and CEO, submitted testimony to the Energy and Water Subcommittee on the budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program. The testimony focused on the need for full use of the Harbor Maintenance Tax annual revenue for maintenance dredging and the need to adequately fund needed channel deepening projects.
“The federal government has a unique Constitutional responsibility to maintain and improve the infrastructure which enables the flow of commerce, and much of that infrastructure in and around seaports have been neglected for too long, particularly the capacity of the federal channels, which affects the ports’ ability to move cargo efficiently into and out of the U.S,” Nagle wrote. “This hurts U.S. business, hurts U.S. workers, and hurts our national economy.”