Bills in state legislature to limit containerships calling Houston could “crush” economic growth, say International Longshoremen’s Association and USMX.
The International Longshoremen’s Association and the group that represents their employers, the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), say they oppose bills in Texas legislation that propose to limit the number of large containerships that could call the Port of Houston.
The proposed legislation, House Bill 4445 and Senate Bill 2223, “will have a devastating impact on container services at the Port of Houston and the wider industry,” said Harold J. Daggett, president of the ILA, and David F. Adam, chairman and chief executive officer of USMX.
“The ILA and USMX last year negotiated a six‐year master contract extension covering ports on the Eastern and Gulf coasts that brings stability and the potential for growth. The Port of Houston stands to grow and prosper as a result, but this proposed legislation jeopardizes the port’s future,” said Daggett and Adam in a statement. “Not only does it reverse this economic growth in the Port of Houston, it crushes it.”
The Port of Houston Commission, with members also acting as the Board of Pilot Commissioners for the port, oppose the state legislation as well. The commission has voted to limit the number of ships using the terminals that create one-way traffic conditions in the Houston Ship Channel. But the commission believes the issue is better handled locally than with a state law.
That’s in part because the rules about ship traffic are periodically adjusted by the pilots. The Houston pilots who guide the ships up and down the channel just this week liberalized their rules that control traffic in the channel. The change means some smaller tankers will be able to pass large containerships traveling in the channel.
The issue was explored in depth in a recent American Shipper article.
“It makes no sense to limit the use of larger, more fuel‐efficient vessels from calling at the Port of Houston,” the ILA and USMX said. “This proposed legislation would affect 30 percent of the fleet vessels for most major ocean carriers and crush the economic engine of the critically important Texas export trade.”