Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Hutchison Introduce Bipartisan Port Security Bill

July 26, 2010

USCG Port SecurityWASHINGTON, DC — Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee, have introduced the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2010 (S. 3639), a bill to strengthen security at our nation’s ports by focusing resources on critical areas, including Especially Hazardous Cargo, small vessel security, and global supply chain security.

“As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and former Chairman and current member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I have a unique appreciation for the national security threats our country faces. Our enemies are motivated, sophisticated and very aggressive – and that means we must be smarter, stronger and more prepared,” Chairman Rockefeller said. “The free and open transportation system that has made America prosper also leaves us vulnerable to attack. If terrorists were to shut down a major port, the disruption to our economy and communities would be incalculable. We need to make sure that all ports across America are safe, secure and prosperous. This bill will put the necessary resources and safeguards in place to keep our transportation networks secure and prosperous.”

“Securing America’s ports is a crucial part of our national security efforts,” said Senator Hutchison. “In my home state of Texas, the Port of Houston ranks first in the country in imports and accounts for hundreds of thousands of jobs that contribute more than $100 billion in economic activity. A terrorist incident at any of our nation’s ports could cause a devastating loss of life and deliver a huge blow to our economy. This vital legislation would improve small vessel security, safeguard the transportation of hazardous cargo, and enhance international supply chain security. I look forward to working with Chairman Rockefeller and other members of the Senate to see that this bipartisan port security legislation is passed quickly.”

The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2010 builds upon the existing port security regime established in the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 and the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006. It addresses security gaps and lessons learned from these two bills by:

  • Increasing small vessel security through the establishment of a recreational vessel operator education requirement and the creation of the American Waterway Watch program, to increase awareness of suspicious activity on or near the water;
  • Developing protocols for receiving, handling, loading, unloading, crewing, and transportation of Especially Hazardous Cargo, the six commodities identified by the Coast Guard as posing the most significant threat to public health;
  • Extending the requirement that 100 percent of U.S.-bound cargo containers be scanned using either nonintrusive imaging or radiation detection equipment to 2015; and
  • Authorizing the Port Security Grant Program through 2014 to create a sustainable, risk-based effort to protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism.

Additional information on the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2010 can be found here.

The United States has more than 1,000 harbor channels and 25,000 mile of inland, intra-coastal, and coastal waterways that serve over 360 ports. More than 2 billion tons of domestic import and export cargo pass through U.S. ports and waterways each year. Waterborne cargo contributes to over $742 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product, and employs over 13 million workers.