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Houston Port Grant Event

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Houston Port Grant Event
Turning Basin Terminal, Port Houston
Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Thank you, Roger [Guenther, Executive Director, Port Houston], for the introduction. Let me also take a moment to thank representatives Jay Guerrero, representing Sen. John Cornyn, Jason Fuller, representing Sen. Ted Cruz, Heather Washburn, representing Cong. Kevin Brady, Kelly Waterman, representing Cong. Brian Babin, and we also have here Laura Ryan, Texas Department of Transportation Commissioner, who is representing Gov. Abbott.

Water transportation is critical to our Nation’s economy. Annually, approximately 72 percent of U.S. – international trade by weight, worth close to $2 trillion, moves by water.  The U.S. water transportation and shipping industries directly employ more than 292,850 workers in this country, including 77,350 inland and deep-sea mariners. 

That is why the Department was pleased to announce $292.7 million in Port Infrastructure Development grants to 15 cities in 11 states across the country. These grants will help ports fully participate in – and contribute to – the strong economic growth that has taken place since the President was elected. 

Texas is receiving nearly $40 million in grant funding for two critical port infrastructure projects in Houston and Corpus Christi. This is such a vital state—especially for U.S. international trade and energy exports—that we had to come down to congratulate you in person!

These Port Infrastructure Development grants align with the Department’s priorities, which are: 1) safety is always #1; 2) investing in our nation’s infrastructure to increase our nation’s economic vitality, productivity, and quality of life; 3) preparing for the transportation systems of the future, and 4) removing regulatory barriers that impede economic growth, job creation, safety, and innovation.

This Administration’s pro-growth tax and economic policies have generated widespread prosperity. More than 7 million jobs have been created nationwide since 2017. The unemployment rate is at a nearly 50-year low. Wages for workers are rising for the first time in decades, and median household income is at its highest level ever. 

In addition, important new trade agreements have been signed by President Trump that will increase trade and create even more opportunities. They include the Phase One Trade Agreement with China, and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This rising tide of economic activity is benefitting everyone, including the maritime industry. 

To help manage these new economic activities, nearly $22 million will be awarded to the Port of Houston. This will be for crane infrastructure installation and other upgrades to the Bayport Terminal. The project will enable the terminal to handle 2.4 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) container ships annually.

Corpus Christi will receive over $17 million to refurbish docks at the Avery Point terminal, which is commonly used for transferring petroleum products from one mode to another. The project will increase the capacity and efficiency of Avery Point, supporting the growth in U.S. petroleum exports, much of which comes through Texas. 

The growth in our country’s domestic energy production has created jobs, made American workers and employers more competitive, and enhanced national security. And this year, for the first time in nearly half a century, our country is projected to become a net exporter of energy.  That’s a tremendous accomplishment made possible, in part, by the people here today.   

So, congratulations Texas! Thank you for the important role you play in contributing to America’s economic success. 

The Department looks forward to continuing this partnership and keeping our ports safe and productive. 

Thank you.

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