U.S. ports seek $400 million annually in federal port grants
U.S. port authorities say they would need about $400 million a year in federal grants to comply with U.S. regulations for enhanced security.
The Bush administration’s proposed fiscal year 2005 budget, however, offers no federal funds for port facility security.
The American Association of Port Authorities called the Bush administration’s failure to fund port security in its proposed budget a “great concern,” especially since the recently enacted Maritime Transportation Security Act authorizes this type of federal support. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress has provided $493.2 million in port security grant appropriations.
“Port authorities and facility operators are expected to comply with the new security regulations at a cost of billions of dollars,” said Kurt Nagel, AAPA president, in a statement. “Federal help is simply imperative in order to make that expectation reality.”
Security experts warn that terrorists may try to sabotage the U.S. economy by bombing key port facilities. According to the Coast Guard, port facilities will need to spend $5.4 billion on port security measures over the next 10 years to comply with federal regulations mandated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act.
“There are just no two ways about it — ports need significantly greater federal help to keep America’s water borders secure,” Nagle said.
The AAPA praised the Bush administration’s proposed fiscal year 2005 budget for increasing the Homeland Security Department’s budget 10 percent over fiscal year 2004.