US Senate directs maritime industry to consider energy security issues

US maritime industry must get advice from the energy industry when considering security issues at domestic ports and harbors under a provision passed by the Senate Thursday. The House is expected to consider the measure next year when it returns from a month-long holiday recess in late January.

By the OGJ Online Staff

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 21 -- US maritime officials must get advice from the energy industry when considering security issues at domestic ports and harbors under a provision passed by the Senate Thursday.

The amendment by Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alas.) to the Port and Maritime Security Act of 2001 directs officials to consider the "unique implications" of the energy trade at America's ports and harbors when reviewing security issues.

"This amendment makes certain that those who are the most knowledgeable in this most critically important aspect of port operations are full participants in the effort to ensure port security," Murkowski said.

Liquefied natural gas shipments into Boston harbor were temporarily suspended by the US Coast Guard following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but they were later allowed to resume.

Similarly, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission affirmed a decision to allow Williams Cos. Inc. to restart an LNG terminal although local officials objected because it is close to a nuclear plant (OGJ Online, Dec. 20, 2001).

The provision is part of larger bill designed to coordinate programs to enhance security and safety of US seaports. The House is expected to consider similar legislation when Congress returns from a month-long holiday recess in late January.

Murkowski said that his provision should be part of a broader discussion by policy makers on the implications of relying too heavily on foreign oil for the US's energy needs.

"As imported energy becomes a larger share of the US energy supply, the energy trade itself creates new terrorist targets."

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