Transportation Policy

Port Tax Report Sparks Bureaucratic Tussle

The Federal Maritime Commission is squabbling internally over its own report that high taxes drive shipping to the Great White North


That's what a new Federal Maritime Commission report does, claiming America's northern neighbor snags business from west coast ports. Lawmakers have seized on its contents, which fit comfortably into the election year narrative of declining U.S. competitiveness and outdated infrastructure.

Only the report — requested by Congress a year ago — almost never came out. And the loudest ones yelling appear to be the commissioners themselves.

Two of the five officials voted to squelch the study, noting vague language, misinterpretations of public comments and questionable economic analysis. Rebecca Dye, one of the two Republicans who opposed it, called the report a "political policy paper developed to justify a predetermined conclusion."