WEST COAST WATERFRONT COALITION ENDORSES ôBALANCEDö PORT SECURITY
The West Coast Waterfront Coalition supports increased seaport security, but wants the Senate to develop legislation that doesn’t cause undue harm to trade.
The coalition said Senate should “remember the importance that our West Coast ports play in the national economy,” and “be sensitive to the needs of U.S. businesses all across the country for the rapid movement of inputs to production, parts, and finished products” when considering passage of the Port and Maritime Security Act (S.1214).
However, the coalition called on the Senate to include new provisions in the bill that would require identification cards and background checks for port workers.
“The current version of the bill only calls for ID cards for workers in sensitive port areas,” said Robin Lanier, executive director of the coalition. “We believe that, given the events of Sept. 11, 2001, all parts of our nation’s ports are sensitive to crime and to possible terrorist attacks. ID cards for workers and truckers seem a reasonable step that should be included in any bill on port security.”
The coalition also called for the Senate to strike language that would require importers using the “in-bond” Customs clearance program, to provide the same detailed entry information at the port of initial entry as is required for regular “consumption” entries.
“This is an example of a provision that would not particularly add to the security of cargo or the ports,” Lanier said. “Currently the Coast Guard is reviewing all vessel manifests well before cargo is unloaded, and importers provide information for in-bond entries, they just do not provide all of the paper work and visas at that time.”
The coalition told the Senate that this requirement could put an end to the in-bond program and contribute to port congestion. Eliminating in-bond entries would “put economic strain” on in-land ports and transportation providers.