FOR RELEASE - December 20, 2007
Contact: Aaron Ellis, firstname.lastname@example.org
American Association of Port Authorities
Phone: (202) 792-4033
"An important milestone in port security has been reached with passage of the fiscal 2008 omnibus spending package that includes $400 million for the Federal Emergency Management Administration's Port Security Grant program," American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) President Kurt Nagle stated today. "AAPA and its 86 U.S. member ports extend appreciation and thanks to those members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that have led the efforts to fully fund the federal Port Security Grant program to help America's ports secure their facilities against terrorism."
Mr. Nagle specifically commended the leadership efforts of Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS)-who are also Chair and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee; House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-WI) and Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA); and House Homeland Security Subcommittee Chair David Price (D-NC) and Ranking Member Harold Rogers (R-KY), and each of their respective staffs.
The President, who is expected to approve the spending bill, has until Dec. 31 to sign it into law.
The SAFE Port Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in October 2006, set the annual funding level for the Port Security Grant program at $400 million, which is the level AAPA has been advocating for several years.
In addition to the Port Security Grant program, the fiscal 2008 spending bill includes $8.1 million to fully fund the Transportation Security Administration's biometric card reader pilot projects as part of the federal Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. These pilot projects will test the effectiveness of new TWIC card reader technology at several maritime locations in the U.S. prior to requiring implementation of those devices at ports nationwide.
"AAPA and its member ports are fully committed to seaport security and we believe protecting America's ports is essential, not only for the nation's security, but also for its economic vitality," Mr. Nagle added.
International trade accounts for more than one-quarter of U.S. Gross Domestic Product and 99 percent of the overseas trade volume moves through America's ports, providing 8.4 million U.S. jobs.
"With this trade and its share of our economy expected to continue to grow substantially, it is vital that ports be able to meet the multiple and at times competing challenges of investing in the infrastructure needed to accommodate increasing volumes safely and efficiently," said Mr. Nagle. "Our ports also proactively serve as stewards of the coastal environment and enhance security at critical junctions of our nation's international border. That's why the federal help provided to America's ports via the Port Security Grant program is so vital."
Also part of the $555 billion spending bill sent to the President today is $5.6 billion in appropriations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Civil Works Program, which includes funding for harbor and navigation channel dredging, as well as $50 million (an increase from $12 million in fiscal 2007) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). The DERA program provides federal grants to reduce air emissions from older diesel engines, including engines used in trucks and cargo-handling equipment at ports.