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News Release
FOR RELEASE - March 12, 2024
Contact: Shawn Balcomb,

American Association of Port Authorities
Phone: (202) 792-4033

Permitting Optimization for Responsible Transportation (PORT) Act Introduced by Reps Peltola and Rouzer

Washington, D.C. — The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) is thrilled to announce that Representatives Mary Peltola (D-AK) and David Rouzer (R-NC) have introduced H.R. 7587, the Permitting Optimization for Responsible Transportation (PORT) Act, a suite of permitting reform solutions for the port industry.

In short, the bill would make several common-sense updates to the Federal government's permitting process for port infrastructure projects without sacrificing the integrity of the environmental review process.

"It should not take longer to permit a federally funded infrastructure project than it does to actually build it," stated Cary Davis, President and CEO, AAPA. "Permitting rules and red tape are better for regulatory lawyers than for everyday Americans. The PORT Act would make faster returns on investments in our critical infrastructure and the industry expresses sincere gratitude to Representatives Peltola and Rouzer for leading this crucial legislation."

“There are many barriers to building ports in Alaska: high material costs, short building season, dangerous sea ice… but unnecessary permitting bureaucracy shouldn’t be one,” said Rep. Peltola. “Alaskans pay the highest grocery prices in the country because of high shipping costs–modernized ports cut costs and increase efficiency. The PORT Act will get Alaskans into union jobs and shovels into the ground, just by simplifying regulations. I’m proud to introduce and sponsor this legislation and excited to work alongside Congressman Rouzer to get it passed in a bipartisan manner.”

“Supply chain challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as current disruptions in the Red Sea demonstrate just how critical it is to have reliable and efficient U.S. ports," said Rep. Rouzer. "The PORT Act makes commonsense permitting reforms to help U.S. ports build the infrastructure necessary to keep goods moving and prices down. I'm proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure our ports can confront the challenges of today’s global economy.”

“There is more federal funding for port infrastructure than ever before, but the federal permitting process remains a barrier to building innovative projects that strengthen our supply chains and create good paying jobs," explained Stephen Ribuffo, Port Director, Port of Alaska in Anchorage. "The PORT Act would give the Maritime Administration more tools to distribute Port Infrastructure Development Program and other grants as efficiently and effectively as possible. Thank you to Congresswoman Peltola for introducing this bill to strengthen Alaska’s port industry, as well as Congressman Rouzer for his leadership.”

“The Permitting Optimization for Responsible Transportation (PORT) Act calls for will streamline the important and valuable permitting process and provide ports with the necessary tools to effectively manage Port Infrastructure Development Program grants effectively from start to finish," said Brian Clark, Executive Director, North Carolina State Ports Authority. "With this legislation, the North Carolina State Ports Authority will be able to better and more efficiently manage its growing federal grant portfolio, including the recently announced PIDP award that will modernize the Port of Wilmington’s North Gate. Wells appreciate Rep. Rouzer’s support and leadership in this important process.”

Under the PORT Act, the Maritime Administration would be required to:

  • Update its list of categorical exclusions (CEs) to include other DOT modal agencies’ CEs, as well as new allowances; and
  • Extend Port Infrastructure Development Program application deadlines when a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is published in “short form” without necessary application details.

The Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) is one of the key federal grant programs for the port industry, awarding about $2.1 billion since the Program was launched in 2019. The legislation would make several other bureaucratic changes that include:

  • Creating an exception to the $200 million project minimum for ports to avail themselves of the assistance of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council. Many port projects do not reach the current threshold.
  • Requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation submit a report to Congress detailing the average length of time between PIDP award announcement and grant obligation, as well as a description of any staffing shortages at MARAD;
  • Placing the burden of proof for the need for a Build America Buy America (BABA) waiver applications on the Federal Government instead of port grant applicants; and
  • Instructing MARAD to allow pooled procurement through PIDP applications, to use PIDP grants for made-in-America port equipment.

Federal funding for port infrastructure has reached a record high, with $9.08 billion projected for Fiscal Year 2024. Appropriating and awarding these funds are major achievements for which the port industry commends the Federal Government. Now we must modernize permitting so that all the funding becomes shovels in the ground and real jobs as efficiently as possible.

Background :

Research from the White House Council on Environmental Quality found that (across all Federal agencies) it takes on average four and a half years to complete an Environmental Impact Statement as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

About AAPA:

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) is the unified voice of port leaders and maritime industry partners across the Western Hemisphere who serve a vital role in job-creation, international competitiveness, and economic prosperity. Connecting small business owners, retailers, and manufacturers to the global marketplace, AAPA member organizations advocate for national policies and infrastructure investments in support of a resilient global supply chain and a positive impact on the way people live, work, travel, and engage in commerce.

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