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JAXPORT CEO urges Congress to support investment in nation’s seaports
October 26, 2011
JAXPORT CEO Paul Anderson (left) with fellow experts prior to hearing.
Paul Anderson, JAXPORT CEO, testified Oct. 26 before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Water Resources and Environment (WR&E) Subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at a hearing titled: “The Economic Importance of Seaports: Is the United States Prepared for 21st Century Trade Realities?”
During remarks to the Subcommittee, Anderson said, “More than 13 million Americans work in international trade, accounting for more than a quarter of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Nearly all U.S. cargo is carried by ship. With volumes expected to double during the next 20 years, we must step up investment in our ports today.”
Anderson proposed a multi-front approach to preparing ports for the future, including the passage of H.R. 104 to make full use of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and support of proposed port language in the Surface Transportation bill. Anderson told the committee he had doubts that U.S. ports will be ready for the challenges ahead without significant changes in the nation’s process. “Mounting economic pressures are leading shippers to demand increased efficiency in a world where speed is the currency of the day," he said.
Pointing out that JAXPORT and North Florida are at the center of shifting global trade trends impacting the U.S. East Coast and have had significant success with public-private partnerships, Anderson called on subcommittee members to assist all ports in generating new jobs by investing in infrastructure, harbor projects and supporting private investment in critical projects.
Urging an end to what he called “a muddy and shifting approval, authorization and appropriation process” for critical seaport infrastructure projects, Anderson emphasized that these projects should not be considered “pork barrel legislative gifts.” Anderson concluded, “The nation’s deepwater ports system is fundamental to our economic health. To realize the maximum, positive impact we must start investing in our gateway infrastructure – we must be building the ports of the future – today.”
In addition to Paul Anderson, other expert panel members testifying were: The Honorable Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army-Civil Works, United States Department of the Army; Jerry Bridges, Chairman of the Board, American Association of Port Authorities; Christopher Koch, President, World Shipping Council; Omar Benjamin, Executive Director, Port of Oakland; William Friedman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority; and Peter Peyton, President, ILWU Marine Clerks Association.
To watch video of the hearing, visit the Subcommittee's site.