Since its inception, the MTD has highlighted the contributions that unionized dredgers make to the economic life of this nation. U.S. ports generate more than a million jobs; they provide American businesses with competitive access to suppliers and markets in an increasingly competitive global economy. Moreover, they enhance U.S. strategic interests by facilitating the transport of troops and supplies overseas.
Like any important asset, U.S. ports must be maintained. In this day and age, that means dredging their channels to ensure that they can accommodate the large, modern vessels that are transforming the face of the international maritime industry. The Department continues to push for a funding mechanism to replace the Harbor Maintenance Tax that was declared unconstitutional during the 1990s. And although MTD port maritime councils in places like New York, Los Angeles and Boston have had success in promoting a number of key port modernization projects, many important ones still remain blocked.
The U.S. dredging industry also plays an important role in the $26 billion U.S. beach tourism and vacation industry. Beaches are in a constant state of flux. Erosion caused by hurricanes, tropical storms and other natural processes has brought about vast economic change. Periodic nourishment and beach replacement has proven to be the most effective remedy for this.
To put the matter into perspective, the three hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004 caused a terrible loss of life and severe property damage. Less obviously, they also caused severe, long-term environmental damage. The MTD would like to see more federal and state monies set side for cases like these and also for preventative long-term replenishment projects.