June 16, 2003
Calling federal help "critical," AAPA President Kurt Nagle, said the just-announced funding assistance was "most welcome and needed to help security enhancements be made in a timely fashion."
"But," he added, "given the high level of need, we encourage the Administration and Congress to provide additional funding as soon as possible."
The Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) $170 million of the $245 million in FY '03 funds released June 12 follows a first round of $92.3 million in FY '02 funding appropriated for U.S. port facilities security last year. The $245 million announcement also included $75 million in funding for port security projects in urban areas. An additional $125 million in FY '02 funds that were appropriated for ports will be obligated this summer. AAPA is urging this funding be made available quickly to set important security projects in motion.
Since September 11, 2001, enhanced security has been U.S. ports' top priority, and they have invested millions of dollars for security enhancements, says the AAPA. But the U.S. Coast Guard estimates that nearly a billion dollars--far exceeding ports' available funds--is needed this year alone to enable port facilities to adequately address terrorist concerns as mandated by the Maritime Security Act of 2002. A total of $4.4 billion will be needed over a ten year period, the Coast Guard reports.
"These security projects for which our ports urgently seek funds are the equivalent of the bread and milk on your weekly grocery shopping list," says Nagle. "They are absolute staples in the national security picture, not indulgences we can do without."
There are over 100 ports along America's 95,000 miles of shoreline. Hundreds of thousands of people, ships, trucks and railcars transit ports every year. Over 95 percent of U.S. foreign trade is imported or exported through these ports, representing over one quarter of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). International trade is projected to more than double by 2020 and will grow faster than the GDP.
Annually the port industry generates 13 million U.S. jobs, $495 billion in personal income and $1.5 trillion in business sales. Ports' critical role in the U.S. economic landscape was illuminated last year when a West Coast labor dispute closed ports for several days and cost the nation an estimated $2 billion per day in lost sales.
"It's easy to take for granted this country's abundant and readily available supply of goods, such as the clothing we wear, the vehicles we drive, the coffee we drink and everything in between," said Nagle. "But a vast majority of those goods--or at least their parts--arrived here by ship at a U.S. port. Ports are also vital to U.S. farmers, miners and manufacturers to enable America's products to compete internationally, as well as to our military for deployment overseas. Simply put, it's imperative we guard America's ports against terrorist threat."