Noting that protecting America’s ports is critical to the nation’s homeland security and economic vitality the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) expressed great concern that the fy05 budget announced by the Administration on February 2 provides no federal funds for port facility security requirements. This is particularly alarming because federal support for port facility security is authorized in the recently enacted Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and has been recognized by Congress with $493.2 million in port security grant appropriations since September 11 2001 according to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). With port security acknowledged as a clear federal priority AAPA is very disappointed that the Administration has not shown its support of port facilities in the budget for the coming year.
|!|While we’re encouraged that some aspects of the MTSA have received support in the 2005 budget it’s disheartening that port facilities have been neglected as a key player|!| said AAPA President Kurt Nagle. |!|Port authorities and facility operators are expected to comply with the new security regulations at a cost of billions of dollars. Federal help is simply imperative in order to make that expectation reality|!| he said.
An FBI official testifying before Congress last week stated that intelligence the agency has gathered suggests that ports are a key vulnerability that has attracted interest from terrorists. The official added that a significant challenge is the limited amount of funding and resources available to the state and local port agencies. At the same hearing a U.S. Coast Guard official said a major port closure for one month due to a maritime terrorist act could cost up to $60 billion in economic loss to the United States.
Nagle says ports have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to boost security since 9/11 and expenses continue to skyrocket. According to U.S. Coast Guard estimates port facilities will need to spend $5.4 billion on enhanced security measures over the next 10 years to comply with new federal regulations mandated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) with $1.125 billion of that projected for the first year alone.
|!|There are just no two ways about it – ports need significantly greater federal help to keep America’s water borders secure|!| said Nagle.