FOR RELEASE - February 1, 2006
Contact: Aaron Ellis, firstname.lastname@example.org
American Association of Port Authorities
Phone: (202) 792-4033
What: News conference responding to President’s FY’07 budget request and how that budget could adversely affect U.S. seaport security, trade and waterside access to ports.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2006, beginning at 12 noon.
Who: Kurt Nagle, President/CEO, American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)
Bernard Groseclose, Chairman, AAPA; President/CEO, South Carolina State Ports Authority
Where: National Press Club
529 14th Street (14th & F Sts.), NW
13th Floor, Lisagor Room
America’s ports are our gateways to the world and a critical component in our nation’s economic health and national defense. Yet, vital port needs—particularly facility security and harbor/channel dredging to ensure deep-draft ship access—are being overlooked and under-funded.
Funding to protect U.S. seaport facilities in the President’s proposed FY’07 budget, to be released on Feb. 6, is again expected to be far below what public ports need to defend their facilities, and the people and cargo at those facilities. While airports, first responders and research and development programs receive most of the federal attention and funding for security and terrorism prevention, U.S. seaports – which annually handle more than $2 trillion in freight, provide jobs for nearly 5 million people and serve 8 million cruise ship passengers – are largely under-funded. As a result, seaports often must sacrifice vital port development and environmental improvement resources to ensure they are protected against increasingly sophisticated criminal and terrorist threats.
With so much at stake, America’s ports are urging the Administration to make seaport security a higher funding priority in its FY’07 budget request. To do this, AAPA advocates funding the federal Port Security Grant (PSG) program—the only federal grant program specific to protecting port facilities—at a minimum $400 million/year. In his proposed FY’06 budget, the President recommended eliminating the PSG program and lumping grant proposals from ports together with requests from a host of other transportation-related industries.
Similarly, the President’s proposed FY’07 budget is expected to be well short of what is needed for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to maintain and improve federal navigation channels for America’s trade. The result of this expected under-funding presents major challenges for public ports, ocean carriers and their customers to meet the expectations of the businesses and communities they serve, both from a safety and an economic perspective. Each year that new dredging projects are delayed and existing projects go unfinished, it puts our nation at a competitive disadvantage to export its products overseas and causes the cost of waterborne imports to go up.
Discussing these issues will be Kurt Nagle, President/CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities, and Bernard Groseclose, President/CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority (who is also this year’s AAPA chairman).