FOR RELEASE - September 30, 2005
Contact: Aaron Ellis, firstname.lastname@example.org
American Association of Port Authorities
Phone: (202) 792-4033
ALEXANDRIA, VA (September 30, 2005) – The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the organization representing public ports throughout the Western Hemisphere, today welcomed the news that Congressional leaders have come to a final agreement to fund the fiscal year 2006 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget, which will provide money for the Port Security Grant (PSG) program’s sixth round.
AAPA is also pleased that Congress adopted the association’s recommendation to reject the Administration’s proposal to eliminate port security grants and lump them into a single DHS-controlled discretionary program for all modes of transportation. Instead, Congress agreed to provide individual funding levels for each transportation mode’s security program, including programs for ports, transit and rail.
The compromise agreement, which must still be ratified by the House and Senate and signed by the President, appropriates $175 million for the next round of port security grant funding. This represents an even split between the Senate’s appropriation recommendation of $200 million and the House’s recommendation of $150 million.
Once the FY’06 budget is ratified, it will be the sixth time that DHS has made security funding available to eligible ports since initiating the program after Sept. 11, 2001. Over the past five funding rounds, DHS has provided approximately $707 million in security grants, including $75 million from DHS’ Urban Area Security Initiative program. However, according to AAPA President/CEO Kurt Nagle, the need still far outpaces appropriations.
“We’re pleased that Congress continues to recognize that port security is still a significant priority for this country, as evidenced by approval of a 17 percent increase in funding for the Port Security Grant program over last year. But we’re still a long way from meeting the needs of the ports,” said Nagle, who noted that, to date, total grant requests have exceeded $3.78 billion, while grant awards have been less than one-fifth that amount.
The appropriation level approved by Congress for last year’s PSG program was $150 million, of which approximately $142 million is being spent help 36 U.S. port areas address physical security enhancements at their facilities.
“To help protect ports against crime and terrorism, AAPA has called for a funding level of $400 million a year to harden security at all seaports that need to comply with the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA),” Nagle remarked. “That is the level the U.S. Coast Guard maintains is needed for America’s seaports to comply with this act. But so far, ports have had to pay for much of their own security infrastructure and improvements. This could cause ports to experience funding shortfalls for critical operating infrastructure—such as new cranes, dock upgrades and cargo-handling equipment and technology—needed to handle the growing trade volumes moving through U.S. ports.”
According to U.S. Department of Transportation forecasts, the total amount of foreign trade moving through U.S. ports by 2020 will be more than double that of 2001 tonnage levels, while the number of containers will increase by 50 percent, significantly impacting our coastal and Great Lakes ports. Between 1970 and 2003, the value of U.S. trade increased 24-fold, and 70 percent since 1994. That was an average annual growth rate of 10.2 percent, which was nearly double the pace of the Gross Domestic Product growth during the same period (6.1 percent vs. 3.1 percent).