We subsidize ports & imports, shouldn’t we protect overburdened communities near ports & freight routes?

Earlier this week, U.S.A. Today reported that U.S. ports and their partners will spend $46 billion (yes, billion!), deepening harbors and making other changes to accommodate the mega-container ships they hope will come.  (See Major USA Today story blames West Coast port problems on a labor strike that did not occur)
These ships bring in roughly 2 containers of imports for every container of goods we export. Most of the imports are from China, and this imbalance of trade cost the U.S. a $342 billion trade deficit with China in 2014.
Yesterday, the other shoe dropped.  The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) released a report and held a press conference announcing that their members need another $29 billion, mostly tax dollars, for port-related freight highway network projects.

Source: AAPA “The State of Freight”
This brings the total cost to approximately $75 billion, over $200 for every man, woman, and child in the United States.  Port authorities are public institutions, and many, perhaps most, of these infrastructure costs are paid for with Federal, State, or local tax dollars.

This figure does not include the substantial costs of upgrading the rest of the U.S. highway system to handle increasing levels of imports and fleets of heavy duty diesel trucks.

Nor does it include the health costs for the more than 12 million people who live within 150 meters of a major highway, many in overburdened neighborhoods and exposed to elevated levels of traffic related air pollution, and suffering adverse health impacts. (See How will the Federal government protect the millions living in the Primary Freight Network Health Risk zone?)
Two questions:

When will we stop subsidizing imported goods with tax dollars and in health impacts on people living in adjacent overburdened communities?

If we are going to subsidize imports with our tax dollars, why don’t we at least protect people in communities near the ports and highway network from traffic related air pollution and the health problems it causes?’


AAPA News Release: U.S. Seaports Threatened By Crumbling Landside Connections

AAPA State of the Freight Report

Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent positions of the Moving Forward Network or its members. Errors are the responsibility of the author.