Hawaii, Alaska legislators seek California container fee exemptions
The U.S. Congressional delegations from Alaska and Hawaii are requesting that Jones Act trade between the two states and California be exempted from proposed legislation seeking to impose a $30-per-TEU fee on all containers moving through California's three largest ports, according to a letter obtained by American Shipper.
Writing to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the four members of Hawaii's Congressional delegation and three members of Alaska's Congressional delegation called the fee 'a burden of great consequence to our hard-working constituents.'
The delegations said that if the California container fee is enacted it would impose additional annual shipping costs of $34 million for Hawaiian citizens and $1.4 million for Alaskans.
Because both states receive most of their goods via ocean shipping, the letter said, their residents 'would have no choice but to pay the increased costs of shipping fees.'
The two delegations ask Schwarzenegger to amend the container fee bill to 'provide an exculpation for vessels engaged in commerce between U.S. ports.'
Ocean cargo between California and the two non-contiguous states — 47,000 containers a year to Alaska and 1.13 million containers a year to Hawaii — is handled almost exclusively by ocean carriers Matson Navigation and Horizon Lines.
The California container fee bill, authored by State Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, narrowly passed the State Assembly last week. Lowenthal is expected to bring the bill for a required concurrence vote in the State Senate sometime after the legislature returns from recess on Aug. 4. If it passes the simple up-down vote in the Senate, the bill would go to Schwarzenegger, who has indicated he supports the bill and is expected to sign it if it reaches his desk.
The bill would impose the per-TEU fee on all containers moving through the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland. The fee is projected to generate $400 million to $500 million annually to be split evenly between goods movement infrastructure and air quality projects throughout the state. Under terms of the bill, the per-TEU container fee would be borne by beneficial cargo owners. ' Keith Higginbotham