Following President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night, the American Association of Port Authorities called on the White House to include the maritime sector in the president’s proposed $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan.
“We’re particularly pleased the president focused on transportation infrastructure in his State of the Union speech, which helps draw further attention to the value that a 21st century transportation system, and by extension, ports, provides the nation,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle. “His speech also reinforces what AAPA is stressing to both the administration and Congress . . . that efficient waterside and landside connections to ports must be a top priority in any broad federal infrastructure package.”
The association said that it has identified $66 billion in federal ports and waterways projects that would support over $150 billion in port authority and private investment initiatives – projects that would expand seaports’ contributions to the American economy. AAPA also reminded the president of the importance of trade to economic growth. “Ports are hubs for international trade, and fair trade agreements are critical to America’s economic prosperity and competitiveness,” the group said.
The American Petroleum Institute, the nation’s largest oil and gas business association, echoed AAPA’s advocacy for fair trade. “NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement] has played a critical role in facilitating North American energy integration, which enhances U.S. energy security, supports millions of American jobs, and helps make energy more affordable,” API head Jack Gerard said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our work with the administration and Congress on policies to keep North American energy integration strong, protecting energy consumers and investors and advancing our nation’s energy leadership throughout the world.”
API also lauded the administration’s proposal to open most of the U.S. continental shelf to oil and gas E&P, including areas off the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines that have historically been off limits. “The Interior Department’s new proposal for its five-year offshore oil and natural gas leasing plan will allow our nation to further harness its energy potential,” Gerard said. “Safely and responsibly exploring and developing reserves in the Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern Gulf of Mexico will strengthen our national security and increase our self-sufficiency for decades to come.”
The National Offshore Industries Association (NOIA) also expressed its support for the administration’s leasing plan. “The Draft Proposed Program could allow for access to valuable untapped offshore resources that belong to every American,” said NOIA president Randall Luthi on Wednesday. “If fully realized, the plan could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, generate billions in new federal, state and local revenue and deliver affordable and reliable energy produced here in the U.S. under the toughest safety and environmental standards in the world.”
Oil and gas firms call for dredging
Separately, in an unusual confluence of port infrastructure and energy interests, six American oil and gas firms – Occidental Petroleum Corporation, NuStar Energy, Buckeye Partners, Howard Energy Partners, Plains All American Pipeline, and Cheniere Energy – called on President Trump to budget $60 million for one specific project. The firms said that American energy exports would benefit from federal funding for dredging the Corpus Christi ship channel, which handled $6 billion in outbound crude oil last year.
“With widespread bipartisan support, we are confident you will find this project the most worthy of funding of all U.S. coastal navigation construction projects in the nation,” said Sean Strawbridge, Port Corpus Christi CEO. “In support of this project are U.S. energy companies who themselves are investing billions in infrastructure from the rich producing energy fields of West Texas to Corpus Christi.”
The dredging project has been in the planning for 30 years, but federal funding has yet to materialize. The port recently advanced $32 million in its own funds to start the work, and it hopes to attract federal investment to complete the project.