FY'10 Federal Budget Request Falls Short For Ports
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) today signaled its disappointment over the Obama Administration's proposed fiscal 2010 budget, saying that it would significantly underfund the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Port Security Grant Program and the portion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Civil Works Program that includes crucial deep-draft maintenance dredging for seaports. In addition, while the administration is asking for a higher funding level than was requested last year for a key program that provides grants to reduce diesel emissions from trucks and other equipment, the request is far below what Congress actually authorized for the program.
"AAPA and its member ports understand the Administration's desire with this budget to direct funding to responsible programs that stimulate the economy, but that's precisely what ports do," said Kurt Nagle, the association's president and CEO. "We hope that, as the budget process moves forward, Congress will recognize-as it did last year-that port security, navigation maintenance and clean-air initiatives are the kinds of critical infrastructure investments that generate economic activity, improve air quality and enhance the flow of international commerce."
The Administration's request calls for a 6.5 percent overall increase in DHS's budget for fiscal 2010, but recommends a significant decrease for port facility security funding over what Congress appropriated last year. In its proposed budget, the Obama Administration recommends the Port Security Grant Program-the only federal program that assists public ports to fund marine facility security improvements-receive $250 million in Congressional appropriations. While this is $40 million more than the fiscal 2009 budget request, Congress authorized $400 million for the program in the 2006 SAFE Port Act and approved a $400 million appropriation for port security grants in fiscal 2009.
With regard to navigation funding, Mr. Nagle said the ports association is also disappointed with the Administration's fiscal 2010 budget request, which falls well short of the funding needed to properly maintain America's federal navigation channels. He said that while the Administration's $793 million Civil Works program request is higher than the $729 million requested last year, between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is needed just to maintain federal navigation channels at their required depths and widths.
On the issue of air quality, the Administration's funding request for the Environmental Protection Agency to implement the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA)-which provides grants to entities like ports and school bus owners to help reduce pollution from older diesel engines-comes in at $60 million. This represents an increase over last year's $49.2 million budget request, but falls far short of the $200 million annual funding level that the 2005 DERA legislation authorized.
"Our nation's prosperity, environment and national defense depend largely on how well we can ensure deep-draft shipping access to our seaports, protect our ports against terrorism and keep our air clean," Mr. Nagle remarked. "While this year's budget request for seaport-related programs is below what we had envisioned, we hope that the Administration and Congress will recognize and agree to fund them at the levels required."