Public port authorities commend Congress for passing S. 1214, the “Maritime Transportation Security Act,” which sets out a framework on how to protect America from terrorism threats in the marine environment.
"We commend Congressional leaders from both parties for making passage of Federal Maritime Transportation Security legislation a priority in the lame duck session. Chairman Hollings
(D-SC), Senator McCain (R-AZ), Senator Graham (D-FL), Senator Breaux (D-LA), Chairman Young (R-AK), Rep. Oberstar (D-MN), and Rep. LoBiondo (R-NJ), as well as many others have worked hard to forge an agreement allowing this legislation to be enacted,” said Kurt J. Nagle, President of the American Association
of Port Authorities (AAPA). “Congress recognizes that taking immediate measures to protect America's ports is critical to our Nation's security and economic vitality, given that U.S. ports handle 95% of overseas trade by volume and support the mobilization and deployment of our armed forces.”
Enhancing maritime security is the top priority for port authorities and AAPA strongly supports Federal legislation and programs to protect ports from acts of terrorism. Passage of this legislation is a major step in establishing a framework for ports and others in the maritime industry to partner with the Federal government to protect America's homeland. AAPA looks forward to working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard as it takes on the responsibility for implementing much of the Act.
“AAPA is pleased the legislation provides for the establishment of local area security advisory committees and the flexibility to develop security plans and appropriate security measures reflective of the varying character and nature of individual ports and facilities,” stated Kurt Nagle. The bill establishes a family of plans - national, area, facilities and vessels - aimed at deterring maritime terrorist incidents. The bill also requires facility and vessel response plans.
AAPA also strongly endorsed the bill’s establishment of a Federal grant program to help ports make security enhancements in a timely and effective manner. As noted in the recent Hart/ Rudman report on U.S. preparedness on terrorism, it is vital that this program be adequately and quickly funded to help secure America’s ports.
Port authorities are public agencies run by city, county and state governments. They range from large facilities that move millions of cargo containers, to smaller ports that import and export dry or liquid bulk products such as chemicals, fertilizer, coal, grain, petroleum and iron ore.