Panama Canal Expansion Fueling Port Upgrades; Some U.S. Ports Burdened by Security, Environmental Regulations

The Panama Canal is expanding, with its capacity set to double by 2015, with the canal being able to handle ships nearly a third larger the current 965 foot long “Panamax.” This means ports serving the canal, all up and down the Atlantic and Pacific, are scrambling to handle the new demand. The Miami Herald reports:

The race for deep water is fierce. Buenaventura [in Colombia] currently feeds much of the traffic to the shallower port in Guayaquil, Ecuador. But Buenaventura is facing competition from Balboa, in Panama, which is emerging as the Latin American leader of transshipment and expects to see its business double after the expansion.

The Bahamas is working with Hutchison Port Holdings to stake its claim as the most modern container facility in the English-speaking Caribbean. With a depth of 52 feet, the Freeport Container Port can already accommodate post-Panamax ships…

But both the port of Jacksonville and Miami are hoping to take a bite out of Bahamian business.

PortMiami is also hoping to undercut Freeport and regain some of the transshipment business that it lost after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when new security regulations strangled business.

Despite the onerous security regulations, as recently as two years ago only 20 percent of cargo was screened for bombs, and the Obama Administration missed a deadline this summer to begin scanning all cargo for radioactive material.

In South Carolina, meanwhile, upgrades to the Port of Charleston, a larger port than Miami’s, have been hampered by federal regulations that last year pushed the completion date out to 2024. The president promised this summer to expedite the work.

And now there’s a legal fight over which government agency has the authority to issue which permits in the Panama-related expansion of the Savannah River shipping channel, pitting Georgia against South Carolina and South Carolina against the feds:

But environmental groups in both states have sued, saying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs a South Carolina pollution permit for the project because the dredging will remove toxic cadmium and deposit it on the South Carolina shore…

The state Supreme Court last month invalidated a federal clean water certification that had been issued by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. The court ruled the state's Savannah River Maritime Commission, not DHEC, had authority over river activities.

When the environmental groups sued over the state pollution permit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia ports argued that no permit was needed because the water quality certification had already been issued…  the corps has told Congress it now wants an exemption from the requirement that the state certify the project.

The corps has sent letters to Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner and eight other Washington lawmakers saying the project should be allowed to bypass environmental review by South Carolina.

And here’s a reminder no country can “outcompete” another despite the president’s belief to the contrary.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Almanian.||

    I keep reading "corps" as "corpse". "Corpse-man" - thanks, Mr. President.

  • Solitude Guard||

    It always comes back to the zombie apocalypse, doesn't it.

  • Almanian.||

    *pats trusty AR*

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Thanks to the Panama Canal, I no longer recognize the Atlantic and Pacific as separate oceans. Thanks, Teddy Roosevelt!

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Now, that I think about it, the Indian Ocean is basically the Panama Canal: Version 1.0.

  • robc||

    Wouldnt Cape Horn by version 1.0?

  • NeonCat||

    Named oceans are just a patriarchal concept created by heteronormative cartographers and sailors to divide, conquer and rape the one great body of water that has given life to Gaea.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    onerous security regulations

    CAPITALISM MIS NOT A SUICIDE PACT!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    stupid keyboard

  • Brett L||

    I can hear my former Maersk masters (who, aside from container shipping, have wholly owned shipyards and resupply subsidiaries) cranking up their kroner printing presses. I'm pretty sure they and their subsidiaries account for something like 1/4 of the Danish economy. After this, it'll probably be 1/2.

  • Pro Libertate||

    A man, a plan, a canal--Panama!

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Lisa Bonet ate no basil.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Tulsa night life: filth, gin, a slut.

  • Tim||

    Rats live on no evil star.

  • Spiny Norman||

    It will be interesting to see how this affects California's CTD economy.

  • NeonCat||

    Currently LA/LB is shut down because of a strike, originally by clerical workers but spreading because of labor solidarity.

    LA/LB has other problems, like congestion, which ends up making it a lot more practical to ship to the east coast.

  • Tim||

    That deep water port? You didn't build that.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement