Ports Association Concerned About Administration’s National Preparedness Grant Program Proposal

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Port of Long Beach security director testifies on behalf of AAPA

Testifying on behalf of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) today, Port of Long Beach Security Director Randy Parsons told the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security that the association has a fundamental philosophical difference with the Administration over its proposed National Preparedness Grant Program legislation, which would move seaport security grants from the federal to the state level.  The current federal security grants program provides funding for crucial port authority security initiatives throughout the U.S.

Mr. Parsons, who heads up security for the nation’s second-busiest container port and who serves as co-chair of AAPA’s Port Security Caucus, said the Administration’s proposed preparedness grants program authorization bill doesn’t properly address AAPA’s years-long discussions with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which manages national preparedness grants. In those discussions, AAPA has repeatedly stated that moving the Port Security Grant Program to the state level would likely put our nation at greater risk for terrorism. That’s because increased competition for grants with emergency responder programs would result in decreased funding for seaport security.

AAPA believes the authority to determine (port security) grants should continue to reside at the federal level, where the expertise exists,” stated Mr. Parsons. “We fear that if ports are ‘lumped’ into the larger Homeland Security equation—which calls for all funds to be distributed through the states—efforts to date will be marginalized and the focus on ports will be lost.”

Port security grants are typically used to help seaport facilities address federal mandates by agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration, Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Coast Guard. Often, state agencies aren’t even aware of these federal agency mandates and don’t have the expertise to determine risks to international borders such as ports.

“AAPA strongly believes that the responsibility for the grants should stay at the federal level, since border security—land, air and maritime—is a national, not a state, responsibility,” noted Mr. Parsons.

To review Mr. Parson’s entire testimony, including four recommendations that AAPA is urging the Committee on Homeland security to adopt, please click here

Port Name: American Association of Port Authorities

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About AAPA

Founded in 1912, AAPA today represents 160 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 300 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. As a critical link for access to the global marketplace, each year, Western Hemisphere seaports generate trillions of dollars of economic activity, support the employment of millions of people and, in 2008, imported and exported more than 7.8 billion tons of cargo, valued at $8.6 trillion, including food, clothing, medicine, fuel and building materials, as well as consumer electronics and toys. The volume of cargo shipped by water is expected to dramatically increase by 2020 and the number of passengers traveling through our seaports will continue to grow. To meet these demands, the AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable.

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