AP explores the national context of harbor deepening battle

 Locally based AP writer Russ Bynum has a great piece today regarding the issue of East Coast ports struggling to find the money and to figure out the logistics for the eventual arrival of larger ships after the Panama Canal extension is completed in 2014: “US Ports Race to Keep up with Bigger Panama Canal”. As with many such Associated Press stories, it is being picked up by news outlets around the country. My link is to ABC News.

The piece covers some of the territory that I and others have been discussing online: the need for funds, the competition between cities, the problem of “no earmark” pledges by members of Congress and so forth. The piece deals not really at all with environmental questions (those got more complex in Savannah last week with the city’s concerns about salinity in the water intake; see the SMN’s “City: Port plan must protect water supply”), nor does it deal with detailed questions about economic impact.

The key portion of the AP article, in my opinion, comes near the end:
“The Corps is evaluating the cost and benefits of these individual proposals in a vacuum,” said Chris DeScherer, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Where does it make the most sense on the East Coast to have a deep water port? Where does the American taxpayer get the most bang for his buck with the least environmental impact?”

The Army Corps said it hasn’t done a broader study to compare ports, in part, because no one has asked.

Maybe Bynum’s piece will prompt federal officials to ask some key questions like that.